Jan. 12, 2013
Griffons hand Bearcats first MIAA loss
By David Boyce
ST. JOSEPH, Mo. – Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball fell in love with the three-point shot and received no love in return.
The harsh turn down led to a 71-58 loss against bitter rival Missouri Western Saturday afternoon at the Missouri Western Fieldhouse.
It was the first loss in conference for the Bearcats, who dropped to 11-3 overall and 4-1 in the MIAA. Western improved to 7-7 and 3-3.
“It’s pretty tough, especially to Missouri Western,” said Northwest point guard Matt Wallace about the first conference loss. “It is not a good taste at all. It will just make us hungrier and ready to go.”
Give credit to Western’s defense, which did a good job of shutting down Northwest inside game. As a result, the Bearcats never found an offensive rhythm in the second half.
“Their zone kind of slowed us down and gave us some looks we haven’t seen,” Wallace said. “We just have to go back to practice and get better looks.”
In the final 10 minutes, Northwest strategy was to toss up one three-pointer after another. Normally, the outside shots by Alex Sullivan and DeAngelo Hailey fall. They didn’t Saturday.
“I thought they had a great looks,” Northwest coach Ben McCollum said. “I never seen Alex miss that many threes. He doesn’t take bad threes. Most of them came on inside out. They just didn’t go down.”
So when Western took a 41-40 lead fairly early in the second half, the Bearcats didn’t possess the patience to fight back by going inside.
The Griffons solidified their lead with a three-pointer by Kalvin Balque to make it 44-40. They never trailed again.
“We just didn’t have a lot of life,” McCollum said. “We were trying to pull life out of them.”
“They did a better job of controlling the tempo. We allowed what they were doing defensively to control how we played offensively and defensively. We are a ball movement, go inside type of team.”
However, Northwest stayed close and until the Bearcats went ice cold down 48-46. A few minutes later, their deficit grew to 58-48.
Northwest managed to close to 62-58 and had one chance to get a little closer, but the Bearcats never found the momentum that they had in the first half.
The Bearcats went 4 for 20 in the second half from three-point range, and that stat more than any other was the reason for the loss.
There were two Bearcats who shot the ball well. Center Dillon Starzl was seven for 10 from the field and finished with 17 points and Wallace made all three of his field goal attempts.
Northwest went into halftime with a slim 33-31 lead in a half that saw a couple of wild swings.
The Griffons got the upper hand early, building a 17-9 lead. Northwest was in trouble. You never want to face a double-digit deficit on the road in the MIAA.
The Bearcats did not in the first half.
Northwest scored the next nine points for its first lead at 18-17. Western briefly stopped the Bearcat rampage with a bucket.
Northwest went on another 9-0 run for a 27-19 lead and was in complete control with 4 minutes remaining in the first half and that’s when it was Western’s turn to score a bunch of points in a short span of time.
The Griffons scored the last six points in the first half to narrow the gap to two points.
Statistically, the game was just as close. Both teams shot 50 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes. Both teams protected the basketball. The Bearcats had six turnovers and Western had seven.
The Bearcats return to the hardwood Wednesday night with a chance to get the bitter taste out of their mouth against Lincoln. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. in one of only two home games during January for the Bearcats.
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Phillip Dowden, Media Relations/Sports Information
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