LA JUNTA, Colo. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team posted a 1-1 record this past weekend at the Hampton Inn Classic hosted by Otero Junior College in La Junta, Colo., after falling in their first overtime challenge of the season.
After trailing 27-23 at halftime Friday night, Nov. 16, against the hosting Rattlers, the Grizzlies (4-2) came roaring at the end of regulation to tie the game at 61-61, but an inability to stop Otero’s shooting in the extra period allowed the Grizzlies to be outscored 14-6 in the overtime period and fall 75-67.
“We kept going and were able to get the game to overtime,” Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said. “We had to have a three to get within striking distance, and we got it. We had to miss the second free throw with three seconds left in order to get an offensive rebound, and we got it. We had to make a shot at the end of regulation, too, and we did it. We even made more free throws than they shot. We simply didn’t get the stops we needed to get the victory.”
As a team, the Grizzlies shot 21 of 60 from the field for 35 percent, two of 11 from 3-point range for 18.2 percent, and 23 of 59 from the free throw line for 59 percent. They grabbed 40 rebounds, 15 off the offensive glass, dished out five assists, committed 13 turnovers, blocked one shot and stole the ball seven time.
Freshman guard Devaugntah Williams led the Grizzlies in scoring with 17 points, hitting six of 15 shots from the field and five of his eight free throws. Freshman guard Jonathan Tshibuy added 14 points, and sophomore forward Kris Frazier recorded a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds, including six off the offensive board. Tshibuy had seven rebounds and three of the team’s five assists.
The Rattlers shot 26 of 55 from the field for 47.3 percent, six of 15 from 3-point range for 40 percent and 17 of 28 from the free throw line for 60.7 percent. They had 43 rebounds, including nine offensive grabs, 14 assists, 12 turnovers, five blocks and five steals. Terrell Brown led the Rattlers on the scoreboard with 25 points, followed by Kentwan Smith with 16.
“We really dominated them on the glass,” Walker said. “We got almost 40 percent of our misses, but we didn’t guard the ball well enough to have the offensive rebounds offset their shooting. They got to the paint too easily.
“As a fan, this was a great game,” he continued. “It was a hard-fought game by both sides. Our turnovers weren’t that bad and we rebounded well, we just didn’t do quite enough to win. There is very little room for error on the road, and we made a few too many errors; however, they are correctable errors, and our guys understand that.”
On Saturday, the Grizzlies bounced back to defeat Lamar Community College of Lamar, Colo., 81-65. “This game allowed us to make the improvements we needed,” Walker said. “We had too many turnovers, but we scored 81 points on only 69 shots, and we didn’t shoot what we normally do from the free throw line. Our offense finally clicked the way it needs to click, and we got the shots we wanted. In fact, most of our guys scored more points than they took shots, and that is the way it should be.”
As a team, the Grizzlies shot 31 of 68 from the field for 44.9 percent, eight of 16 from 3-point range for 50 percent, and 11 of 25 from the charity stripe for 44 percent. They collected 48 rebounds, including 18 offensive, dished out 15 assists, committed 17 turnovers, blocked one shot and stole the ball seven times.
Frazier led the Grizzlies in scoring with 14 points and recorded another double-double by adding 12 rebounds. Williams scored 11 points, and freshman guard Isiah Rogers added 10. Sophomore forward Keaton Jackson led the Grizzlies on the glass with 13 rebounds, including four offensive grabs.
Lamar was 19 of 50 from the field for 38 percent, three of 19 from 3-point range for 15.8 percent, and 24 of 30 from the free throw line for 80 percent. The Runnin’ Lopes also had 29 rebounds, 14 assists, 20 turnovers, five blocks and eight steals. Malcolm Brooks led the team in scoring with 15 points, followed by Shore Adenekan with 13 and Trevon Seymour with 11.
“We have to get better at guarding the ball,” Walker said. “That was obvious because almost 40 percent of their points were free throws. Our help defense was better, and we guarded screens off the ball correctly most of the time, but we need to take a step forward guarding the ball. When we do that, we can give our off-ball defenders more time to make the right play.
“This wasn’t a terrible trip, it just wasn’t a road win like we needed it to be,” he added. “We have to learn how to win on the road. We’ve been close against two good teams so far, but close isn’t the end result we’re looking for.”
The Grizzlies return home for one more game before the Thanksgiving break. They will host Neosho County Community College from Chanute, Kan., at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 20, at the West Plains Civic Center.
“We have another chance to show improvement on all of the little things on Tuesday against Neosho County. We are moving forward with our process of becoming a complete team, but there are still some significant jumps to make.”
For more information about the Grizzly Basketball program, visit the team’s website at http://www.wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/bb.htm or call the Grizzly Basketball office at 417-255-7993.