WEST PLAINS, Mo. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team’s record now stands at 6-2 with recent wins over Neosho County Community College of Chanute, Kan., and Angelina College of Lufkin, Texas.
The Grizzlies defeated the Neosho County Panthers 63-47 Tuesday night, Nov. 20, in a home contest at the West Plains Civic Center, then traveled to Texas for a Sunday afternoon match up on Nov. 25 and beat the Angelina Roadrunners 74-65.
Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said Sunday’s contest “was a great test and learning experience for our team. We went on the road to a different state, faced adversity, absorbed our opponent’s scoring runs and executed on both ends of the floor well enough to get our first true road win.”
Sunday’s game was reminiscent of the teams’ earlier meeting Nov. 2 in the Grizzly Tip-Off Classic, Walker said. “We got a lead in the first half, and they fought back to tie it at halftime. We didn’t get as large of a lead, but we made the right plays and made free throws down the stretch to secure the win,” he explained. “This was really a tough game to execute in because they played zone almost the entire game. We got a little stagnant offensively a few times, but we had good ball movement most of the game.”
Offensively, the Grizzlies connected on 28 of their 61 shots from the field for 45.9 percent, seven of their 22 3-point attempts for 31.8 percent and 11 of 16 shots from the free throw line for 68.9 percent. They also gathered 36 rebounds, including 10 offensive rebounds, handed out 12 assists, grabbed four steals, blocked three shots and committed 12 turnovers.
Sophomore forward Kris Frazier led the team in scoring with 16 points, hitting seven of his nine field goal attempts and both of his free throws. He also had 14 rebounds, including six offensive rebounds, for a double-double performance.
Freshman guard Isiah Rogers had 15 points and three assists, and sophomore forward Keaton Jackson added 11 points.
The Roadrunners were 20 of 63 from the field for 31.7 percent, six of 24 from 3-point range for 25 percent, and 19 of 25 from the charity stripe for 76 percent. Jaylen Daniel led the team in scoring with 23 points, followed by Victor Mbachu with 15.
“We still have to make improvements guarding the ball, but our overall defense was solid,” Walker said. “Going into the game, Angelina had moved into the top 20 in the nation in 3-pointers made per game, and we held them to six; however, we let them get to the free throw line too many times.
“This was a great experience for our team,” he continued. “It was a big step for our team to get this road win. I’m proud of how they responded and came through in a tough situation.”
Against the Panthers, Walker said, “there are definitely some good things to take away from this game, but it is easy to see that we have some things to work on, as well. We didn’t convert well on fast break opportunities, and we didn’t guard quite as well as the score may lead some to believe. We have to get our opponents’ shooting below 40 percent from the field. Our feet were pretty good on our closeouts, but we didn’t have our hands up.”
Statistics show the Grizzlies hit 25 of 51 attempts from the field for 49 percent, five of 14 3-point shots for 35.7 percent and seven of 13 attempts at the free throw line for 53.8 percent. Frazier led the team in scoring with 13 points, followed by Rogers and fellow freshman guards Jon Tshibuy and Delvonte Pierre with 9 points each.
The Panthers hit 15 of their 32 attempts from the field for 46.9 percent, three of nine 3-point attempts for 33 percent and 13 of 14 free throws for 92.9 percent. Leading scorers were Mark Gray and D’Marco Smith, both of whom had 8 points.
“Neosho County did a good job of running their offense. We were only up 10 at halftime, but we were able to build the lead in the second half,” Walker said. “Offensively, we shot the ball pretty well. We do need to do a better job of finishing around the basket, though.
“We had pretty good balance with scoring,” the coach continued. “Kris was the only one in double figures, but Isiah, John and Delvonte added nine apiece, Arroyo Edwards threw in eight, and Devaugntah Williams scored seven.”
The Grizzlies return to the road later this week to compete in the Coffeyville Resources JUCO Elite 8 Tournament Thursday, Friday and Saturday, Nov. 29-30 and Dec. 1, hosted by Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kan. The Grizzlies will open the tournament against Cowley County Community College, Arkansas City, Kan., at 2 p.m. Thursday. The outcome of that game will determine the Grizzlies’ next playing time on Friday.
In addition to the host team, the Grizzlies and Cowley County, other teams participating in the tournament include Moberly Area Community College, Moberly, Mo.; Dodge City (Kan.) Community College; Pratt (Kan.) Community College; Quakerdale Promise Academy Prep, New Providence, Iowa; and Seminole State College, Seminole, Okla.
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.