WEST PLAINS, Mo. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team remains on top of the Region 16 rankings today, Jan. 19, after defeating arch rival Three Rivers College, Poplar Bluff, Mo., 85-80 Saturday night, Jan. 18, in the annual homecoming game in the Joe Paul Evans Arena at the West Plains Civic Center.
Here is a recap with Harlin Hutchison:
The Grizzlies, 15-7 overall, are 2-0 in Region 16 play, tied for first place with State Fair Community College, Sedalia, Mo., which is 12-6 overall. Moberly (Mo.) Area Community College, 16-5 overall, is third with a 2-1 region record; Three Rivers, 12-7 overall, is fourth in region play with a 1-3 record; and Mineral Area College, Park Hills, Mo., which has a 10-10 overall record, is fifth in the region at 0-3.
“This was a typical, hard-fought Region 16 game,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said of his team’s win over the Raiders. “Compliments to Three Rivers. We knew they would not beat themselves, and we had to make some plays down the stretch to win.”
The Grizzlies struggled at the start of the contest and found themselves down 25-14 at the 6:55 mark in the first half after failing to get the ball inside and attack the glass. But they battled back to tie the game 37-37 at halftime.
“We were not attacking the basket well enough early,” Walker said. “We kept settling for jumpers and got down by 11. We finally attacked the basket and got some good looks to get our run started.”
The battle remained close in the second half. The lead changed 11 times, and neither team gained more than a 6-point advantage.
“In the second half, we did a better job of attacking from the start. That created better looks and opportunities at the free throw line,” Walker explained. “Arroyo Edwards went to the foul line 14 times himself in the second half.”
For the game, Edwards, a sophomore guard, went 17 of 22 from the charity stripe and scored a total of 23 points for the game. Fellow sophomore guard Devaugntah Williams led the team in scoring with 30, and freshman guard Jeremiah Jackson added 11.
Overall, the Grizzlies connected on 27 of 56 attempts from the field for 48.2 percent, nine of 19 shots from 3-point range for 47.4 percent, and 22 of 29 shots from the free throw line for 75.9 percent.
Edwards also had five assists, and sophomore forward Malik London recorded six blocks.
The Raiders hit 27 of 69 attempts from the field for 39.1 percent, seven of 14 shots from 3-point range for 50 percent and 19 of 28 shots from the charity stripe for 67.9 percent. Leading scorers were Jared White with 29 points, Uzonna Akazi 14 and Torry Butler 11.
“We have to do a better job of getting to loose balls,” Walker said. “It seemed like every one went to them last night.”
The Grizzlies were aided in their win by a large, vocal crowd and a visit by the Missouri State University Bear Mania Basketball Band from Springfield. “This was an outstanding crowd, and they were a big factor in the win,” the coach stressed.
“We also want to thank the Ozark Horse Trader for sponsoring the game. It was a huge event, and they did a great job.”
For more information about the Grizzly Basketball team, including complete statistics from the games, visit wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/bb/.