Jan. 13, 2014
Bearcats beat RiverHawks at home, 85-65By David Boyce | Box Score
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Students returned from Christmas break so the Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball team decided to entertain its peers with an upper-level brand of ball that Northeastern State was not prepared to deal with.
Northwest made the RiverHawks look like they went into 600-level course with basketball 101-skills.
What was supposed to have been an early-season, first-place showdown turned into an easy 85-65 rout by Northwest Monday night at Bearcat Arena.
“It definitely feels good to be playing in front of a lot of people and your fellow students and they are pretty loud,” said sophomore Conner Crooker, who finished with a game-high 20 points. “It definitely changes the environment of the game and gives us home court advantage.”
The Bearcats improved to 11-5 overall and 6-1 in the MIAA. Northeastern dropped to 10-4 and 5-2.
Much of the first half, the game was as close as the records indicated it would be. But the Bearcats got hot at the end.
Northwest finished the first half strong. The game was tied 24-24 when Northwest went on a 9-0 run and took a 33-24 lead into halftime.
Cooper made four free throws during the run and freshman Zach Schneider also hit a three-pointer.
“I think the first half we were getting the same shots as the second half, but just weren’t knocking them down,” said Schneider, who finished with 19 points. “We started making the run when we were hitting open shots.”
The first 10 minutes of the second half was basketball at its best for Northwest. It was beautiful, the way the game is meant to be played.
Northwest made the extra pass that led to wide open shots inside and out.
The blowout began with an inside bucket by Dillon Starzl that gave the Bearcats a 36-25 lead. A minute later, sophomore Connor Crooker took advantage of a nice pass and drained a three-pointer to make it 39-25.
After a three-point play by Northeastern, Crooker drilled another three-pointer.
The two teams traded points over the next few minutes and then the Bearcats exploded offensively. They were scoring points in every manner.
The capper came with 13 minutes left when Crooker drove to the hole, passed it to Matt Wallace, who then slipped a pass to Grant Cozad, who laid it in to give Northwest a 57-35 lead.
“That is when we are at our best when we get the ball moving,” said Cozad, who finished with 11 points and five rebounds.
With the big lead, Northwest never let up. The Bearcats kept fighting for offensive rebounds and attacking the basket. It was an amazing performance by the Bearcats.
“We did play pretty well, but I think we can always improve,” Northwest coach Ben McCollum said. “The coach in me says that we can. There were some missed layups and a few turnovers and a few missed rotations.
“For the most part, we played at a high level. Our energy was good. Our concentration was good. We were into the game. It was just a good game.”
There was not much to say about the play of Northeastern. And because this is a website devoted to focusing on the positive aspects of collegiate athletics, no comments will be made about the nearly all black jersey of the RiverHawks.
The Bearcats deserved all the attention Monday night. They shot 60 percent from the field in the second half. Overall, Northwest was 11 for 23 from three-point range.
It was a dominating performance as five Bearcats scored in double figures.
“We have the potential to be a great team,” Cozad said. “We have to find that chemistry with each other. We have it. We show great moments sometimes. We have to keep it consistent.”
For more information, please contact:
Media Relations Department, Northwest Athletics
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Lamkin Activity Center | 800 University Drive | Maryville, MO 64468