BOONEVILLE, Miss. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team overcame an 11-point deficit at halftime to earn a 68-62 victory over Northeast Mississippi Community College Thursday night, Feb. 7, in Booneville, Miss.
The Grizzlies are now 18-9 overall on the season.
“There’s not much to say about this one. We didn’t have the focus we needed preparing for this game, and it almost cost us,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said. “The stats tell the surface of the story. We had one more two-point field goal and four more free throws for the final 6-point difference.
“The deeper story is that Desmond Buerge and Kris Frazier carried us in the first half to keep us within striking distance,” the coach continued. “In the second half, we played together and had eight assists and just three turnovers.”
The Grizzlies found themselves in the hole early when the Tigers’ Acie Vance hit two quick 3-pointers to start the game. Freshman guard Devaugntah Williams finally got the Grizzlies on the board at the 18:18 mark, but the team remained scoreless for the next three minutes until Frazier, a sophomore forward, finally lifted the Grizzlies’ score with back-to-back 2-point buckets, his only points of the game.
As a team, the Grizzlies only hit 34.6 percent of their field goals in the first half. Fortunately, they were able to hit 85.7 percent of their free throws during the period. The second half was a different story, as the Grizzlies hit 55.6 percent of their field goals, including 83.3 percent of their 3-point shots.
“The second half difference was just our approach,” Walker said. “We were much more assertive, and our defense had more of a purpose.”
For the game, the Grizzlies hit 24 of their 53 attempts from the field for 45.3 percent, six of their 16 3-point attempts for 37.5 percent and 14 of 21 their free throw attempts for 66.7 percent. Leading scorers were Buerge, a freshman guard, with 15 points, including three 3-pointers, freshman guard Arroyo Edwards with 14, Williams with 12, and freshman forward Malik London with 10.
The Grizzlies also collected 38 rebounds, 20 of which were grabbed by sophomore forward Keaton Jackson, who also had 8 points. The team also recorded 10 assists and 15 turnovers for the game.
“Keaton and Malik did a good job of altering shots then chasing the rebound,” Walker said.
The Tigers hit 25 of 51 of their field goals in the game for 45.1 percent, six of 10 3-point attempts for 60 percent and 10 of 15 free throws for 66.7 percent. They also had 24 rebounds, 11 assists and 11 turnovers. Vance was the leading scorer with 19 points, followed by Tadarious Coburn with 17.
The Grizzlies will close out the regular season with their final three Region 16 games, the first of which is set for 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13, against State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Mo. State Fair, 18-6 overall, sits at the top of the region with a 4-1 record, followed by the Grizzlies, Mineral Area College and Moberly Area Community College in a three-way tie for second with 3-2 records. Three Rivers College is at the bottom with an 0-6 record.
“There is no more room for error. Our remaining games are Region 16 games,” Walker warned. “Even with the standings as tight as they are right now, if we take care of our business and win, we don’t need any help from any other team.”
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.