PARK HILLS, Mo. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team remains undefeated Region 16 today after defeating the Mineral Area College (MAC) Cardinals 74-63 Wednesday evening, Feb. 1, in Park Hills, Mo.
The Grizzlies are now 18-5 overall and 4-0 in the region.
“Mineral Area is hard to prepare for because they do so many things off the cuff,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said. “We knew that guarding the ball and rebounding would be important. Our help defense was much cleaner than the first time we played them.”
The Grizzlies played much better offensively in the first half than they did during the teams’ earlier meeting on Jan. 14 at the West Plains Civic Center. By the end of the period, the Grizzlies were up 35-23.
“We spent the last several practices focusing on doing a better job rebounding, both offensively and defensively, and starting the game off with better offensive execution,” Walker explained. “We collected 12 offensive rebounds and, while our execution wasn’t perfect, it was still efficient enough to build a 12-point lead a halftime.”
Although the Cardinals outscored the Grizzlies 40-39 in the second half, thanks in large part to sophomores Darrien Hooker and Jerome Davis who combined for 38 eight of those points, the Grizzlies were able to keep the Cardinals in check.
“Our goal coming out of halftime was to start the half with three defensive stops in a row. To our team’s credit, we were able to get five in a row to start the half,” Walker said. “Our defensive intensity got increasingly better as the game went along. We forced them to make challenged shots most of the game.”
Walker said the Cardinals did their best to keep the Grizzlies off balance by running two different zones and switching to a man-to-man defense throughout the game. “For the most part, we were patient and got the shots we wanted, but we did rush on a few possessions,” he added.
Offensively, the Grizzlies were led in scoring by sophomore Gage Wooten with 24 points, followed by sophomore Nathane Simniok and freshman Kervin Rameau, who each had 10. Wooten also grabbed 10 rebounds for the night.
Hooker and Davis paced the Cardinals on the scoreboard with 29 and 22 points, respectively. Twenty-three of Hooker’s points came in the second half.
“Again, our bench gave us a nice lift,” Walker said. “We were able to go with several different lineup combinations that allowed us to have an extra ball handler on the floor with all those traps they were setting.” The Grizzlies’ bench outscored the Cardinals’ 27-2.
The Grizzlies hit the road again later this week to take on Region 16 rival Moberly Area Community College at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, in Moberly, Mo. The return home Tuesday, Feb., for a non-region match against Arkansas Baptist College of Little Rock at 7 p.m. in the West Plains Civic Center arena.
For more information about the Grizzly Basketball program, including complete game statistics, visit the team’s website at http://www.wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/bb.htm or call the Grizzly Basketball office at 417-255-7993.