The 67-48 defeat of the Truman State Bulldogs was significant on many levels for the Griffons.
“The MIAA is considerably tougher than it has been in the past four or five years,” Smith said. “This season especially, it is a good goal to reach for our team.”
The Griffons came out hot and opened the game on a 7-0 run. The Griffons held on to the lead and took a 25-20 advantage into halftime.
The Bulldogs would cut the lead to two, with 16:49 left in the second half. The Griffons respond with a 10-0 run and would never be in danger of losing the game again. Marcus Rhodes led the Griffons in scoring for the third straight game, as he chipped in 15 points. Coach Smith thought Rhodes played a big role in the basketball game.
“Marcus Rhodes came out and shined offensively and Ken Goodwin took a key charge in the game that swayed the momentum towards us in the contest,” Smith said.
Ken Goodwin and Dominique Thurston also were big for the Griffons, as they added 13 and 10 points respectively. The Griffons out-rebounded the Bulldogs 37-31 and forced 18 turnovers. The Griffons shot the ball well with 44 percent for the game.
The Griffons are currently in seventh place in the MIAA conference. Depending on the next two games the Griffons could move as far up as fifth place for the tournament. That will not be an easy task as the Griffons finish their seasons with the top two teams on the road. Coach Smith knows it will be challenging.
“I think it will be important to finish strong and we have to finish with the two best teams in the conference on the road,” Smith said. “It will be a good challenge for our team heading into the tournament.”
The Griffons will play at Southwest Baptist Feb. 28 and they will finish up their season in the MIAA tounament, which will be played at Municipal Auditorium March 5-8.