EL DORADO, Kan. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team returned home this week following a tough road trip that saw them suffer their first losses of the season.
The most recent loss came Saturday, Nov. 19, when they fell to Butler Community College 83-70 in El Dorado, Kan. The Grizzlies’ season record now stands at 4-3.
“The difference in this game was their points off turnovers,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said. “We did not take care of the basketball in the first half, and it hurt us immensely. We only had five turnovers in the second half, but it was too little too late.”
The Grizzlies had 17 turnovers in the first half, and Butler took advantage, outscoring the Grizzlies 44-23 before the break.
“We just dug too deep of a hole,” Walker said. “Our guys responded well to the halftime adjustments, and we were able to make a big run and get it to a 9-point game pretty quickly, but we just stalled a little bit too much at that point.”
The Grizzlies outscored Butler 47-39 in the second half, helped in part by their perimeter offense. The Grizzlies hit five 3-pointers in the period. “It was nice to finally hit some outside shots in the second half,” Walker said.
Overall, the Grizzlies connected on 25 of 46 shots from the field for 54 percent, seven of 16 shots from 3-point range for 44 percent and 13 of 18 free throws for 72 percent. They also snared 29 rebounds, 10 off the offensive boards.
Sophomore Gage Wooten led the offensive charge with 19 points and eight rebounds, three of which came on offense. Wooten also was perfect from the charity stripe, hitting all four of his attempts. Sophomore Kevin Nelson added 17 points, including two 3-pointers, and freshman Miles Gatewood contributed 13 points, including two 3-pointers.
Butler hit 31 of 55 shots from the field for 56 percent, six of 18 shots from 3-point range for 33 percent, and 15 of 18 free throws for 83 percent. Justin Simmons was the leading scorer with 22 points.
The Grizzlies won’t hit the court again until Dec. 1 when they begin competing in the Elite 8 Tournament hosted by Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kan. They will face Cloud County Community College of Concordia, Kan., at 6 p.m. on the first day of the three-day event.
“We now have a chance to get some good practices in over the break,” Walker said. “We don’t play again until Dec. 1, so that gives us a nice chance to improve. We need to get back to being tougher defensively.”
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.