March 7, 2008
Men Follow Women's Lead; Advance to Saturday's Semis
KANSAS CITY, MO.-Northwest Missouri State junior Hunter Henry had 17 first-half points and finished with 21 in a 71-42 win against Pittsburg State in the first round of the MIAA tournament Friday night. The Bearcats (21-7) beat the Gorillas (18-10) for the third time this season and advance to face the winner of Central Missouri and Washburn in the semifinals tomorrow at 8:15 p.m.
Lance Sullivan added 18 points and Andrais Thornton nine for the Bearcats, who set an MIAA tournament record for fewest points allowed. Pittsburg State scored no more than 46 points in three tries against the Bearcats.
Northwest has won 10 of its last 11 first-round games and is 11-3 as the No. 2 seed. The Bearcats have won eight of their last nine overall.
Henry, last year's MIAA MVP, overshadowed this year's MVP Cory Abercrombie. Henry was 7-of-11 from the field in the first half when he had nearly half his team's points and rebounds. Abercrombie had two field goals the entire game and finished with seven points and five boards for the Gorillas.
The Bearcats led 34-19 at halftime and held PSU to two points in the first seven minutes of the second half to increase their lead to 22. The Gorillas shot 26 percent in the second half and 27.5 percent for the game.
Northwest never trailed in the contest and took control by outscoring PSU 15-4 during the final 10 minutes of the first half. The Bearcats scored 15 first-half points on 12 Pittsburg State turnovers.
Sullivan was 4-of-8 from behind the arc and 4-for-4 from the free-throw line. The Bearcats shot 84 percent from the stripe where it outscored the Gorillas 21-8.
Spencer Magana hit four 3-pointers and led Pittsburg State with 14 points. The Gorillas leading scorer with 12 minutes left in the second half had just six points.
Thornton provided quality minutes off the Bearcat bench and showed some strength when he took a hit from Abercrombie and muscled in a shot in with 13 remaining. Thornton completed the three-point play and Northwest led 46-24.
Henry scored from behind the arc, in the paint and at the line. He tipped in a Matt Withers' miss in the first half, then hit Withers with a pass in the paint for a three-point play in the second half. Withers had four points, but was the main reason Abercrombie had seven.
Northwest Missouri State head coach Steve Tappmeyer post-game quotes:
"We're pleased with how we played. We thought we had good energy tonight. I was a little concerned the week off might lose some of our timing and flow, but we felt good about how we played tonight. We had a lot of guys contribute. I thought that was the key, it didn't have to be any one person. I thought our defensive effort is what got us going offensively."
On the advice to your team after top-seeded Southwest Baptist lost…
"We have six seniors and a pretty mature team. Even though we had beaten Pittsburg State twice, we knew it was going to be a hard fought game and that you would have to come out and play awfully well to beat them. Before the game you say forget all the seeding and everything else. Just respect the fact that we're playing an awfully good team and get ready to go and try to do what we've done two other times.
On keeping PSU to less than 50 points three times…
"If I knew how to do that everytime, I'd write a book and stop this coaching and maybe sell that. They're a team that runs their offense so well, but we've been successful in taking them out of their rhythm. With (Cory) Abercrombie in the middle, we knew we couldn't let them keep reversing the ball until he was freed up, so we tried to mix things up. I think more than anything, maybe we've been able to have some success keeping him out of any kind of flow or rhythm."
On the physique of Hunter Henry…
"He almost uses that to his advantage. He gets bounced around quite a bit, but he's very long and gets his hands on a lot of ball. He hangs in there. He would probably say the same thing. He came off such a great year last year and he's had a stretch where he's the first name on every scouting report. He's played well all year, but not at the same level he did last year. I think tonight we started seeing more of that, being a little more aggressive offensively. Those 12 rebounds, that's awfully good to see him playing that way."
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