PARK HILLS, Mo. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team opened its Region 16 season Saturday night, Jan. 12, against the Mineral Area College Cardinals in Park Hills, Mo., but the outcome wasn’t what they’d hoped.
Despite a second-half come-back, the Grizzlies fell to the Cardinals 75-67. They are now 12-8 overall and 0-1 in Region 16 play. The Cardinals, 17-3 on the season, are on top of the Region 16 rankings at 2-0.
“We didn’t take care of the ball well enough or defend the three well enough to win,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said. “We kept fighting, but we didn’t make enough plays in the end to win.”
The Grizzlies turned over the ball 19 times during the course of the game and allowed the Cardinals to connect on eight of their 15 3-point attempts. Several of those threes came in the first half and allowed the Cardinals to go up 15-2 early. By the end of the period, Mineral Area held a 41-26 advantage.
“We looked a little bit out of sync in the first half, and we weren’t in tune with our scouting reports,” Walker said.
In the second half, the Grizzlies worked hard to chip away at the Cardinals’ lead, pulling to 66-61 with about four minutes left, but the Cardinals kept the Grizzlies at bay from the free throw line.
“Even with all that went wrong, there was about a four minute stretch in the second half where the deficit stayed between 14 and 16 points, but we couldn’t make any leeway on the offensive end,” the coach said. “We made a furious comeback and had a good look in the corner to cut the lead to one with a little over two minutes left, but we didn’t convert.
“We have to give Mineral Area credit. They are much improved over the past two seasons. For the first 25 minutes of the game, they dictated the game, and that cost us,” Walker added.
The Grizzlies were led in scoring by freshman guard Jonathan Tshibuy with 22 points. The team also had 14 offensive rebounds. Jay Raulston led the Cardinals in scoring with 30 points, aided in part by his canning of four of five 3-point attempts.
The Grizzlies will return to the road for its second Region 16 contest on Saturday, Jan. 19, when they will face Three Rivers Community College at 7 p.m. in Poplar Bluff, Mo. The Raiders also are 12-8 for the season, but they’re 0-3 in Region 16 play.
For more information about the Grizzly Basketball program, visit the team’s website at http://wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/bb.htm or call the Grizzly Basketball office at 417-255-7993.