WEST PLAINS, Mo. – It seemed apropos that Wednesday night’s basketball game between the No. 16 Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzlies and No. 3 Indian Hills Community College Warriors came down to a last-second shot.
During the course of the Grizzlies’ 25-year history in junior college athletics, these two teams have battled down to the wire several times, especially in the program’s early years. So, it came as no surprise to long-time Grizzly fans that last night’s contest at the West Plains Civic Center did, as well.
Unfortunately for the Grizzlies, their last-second attempt at a 3-point shot that would have won the game fell short, and the Warriors escaped back to Ottumwa, Iowa, with a 98-96 win.
“As disappointing as the outcome is, I’m very proud of our guys,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Chris Popp said. “They overcame a lot of adversity, with some of our guys out and the problems with the clock. They played very hard against a very good team.”
The Grizzlies went into the contest down three starters, but that didn’t seem to slow them down. They quickly jumped out to a 10-2 lead, thanks to 3-pointers by freshman point guard Jodhe Campbell and freshman guard Eric Lovett. By the midway point of the first half, the Grizzlies were up 30-19.
But play came to a halt when electrical problems hit the scoreboard. University and civic center staff worked diligently for nearly an hour to get the play clock and shot clock up and running, but to no avail. After a discussion among game officials, the coaches and the crew at the scorers table, officials decided to proceed with the crew at the table keeping time on hand-held devices.
At first, the long delay didn’t seem to impact the Grizzlies, as they built their lead to 38-21 with 7:10 remaining in the half. But the Warriors battled back and narrowed the Grizzlies’ advantage to 48-42 at halftime.
Popp said it’s impossible to know if the delay impacted the ultimate outcome of the game. “Without playing it straight through, you don’t know what would have happened, but it definitely changed the feel,” he said.
The Grizzlies kept themselves just ahead of the Warriors through much of the second half, but with about six minutes remaining, the Warriors finally tied up the game for the first time since the tipoff with a shot by Antonio Williams.
The teams traded buckets until the Warriors were able to get a stop and a bucket with 4:30 remaining and take the lead. Missed opportunities and turnovers by the Grizzlies allowed Indian Hills to build a 5-point lead with 3:34 remaining.
But the Grizzlies battled back and, after a block and 3-point shot by sophomore point guard Ricky Torres, they pulled within striking distance with seven seconds remaining. After the Warriors went one for two at the free throw line, the Grizzlies brought the ball quickly down the court, but a 3-point attempt by freshman guard Montel Stewart at the one second mark bounced off the basket’s side rim.
“This is one of the best defensive teams we’ll see. They make you work for everything. They pack it inside and force you to make shots,” Popp said. “But our guys came out and played to win. There was no concern about who their opponent was, they were aggressive from the start. I’m very proud of their effort.”
Redshirt freshman guard Radshad Davis led the Grizzlies in scoring with 22 points. He was followed by Torres with 21. Torres also added eight assists. Others scoring in double digits were Campbell 16, freshman forward Dontell Brown 14 and Lovett 13.
The Grizzlies will open Region 16 play Saturday, Jan. 13, when they host Mineral Area College from Park Hills in a 7 p.m. contest.
For complete statistics of the Grizzlies’ games this season, visit http://stats.njcaa.org/sports/mbkb/2017-18/div1/teams/missouristateuniversitywestplains.
For more information about the Grizzly Basketball program, visit the team’s website or call 417-255-7991.
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