The Missouri Western men’s basketball team defeated Truman State 71-68 in a classic match up between the Griffons and the Bulldogs on Wednesday, Jan. 13.
Western was down the whole first half of the game, with the Bulldogs shooting lights out from the three-point line. Truman shot an impressive 63.6 percent.
Head coach Tom Smith said Truman played hard the first half, but began to lose stamina.
“They wear themselves out by running their offense sometimes,” Smith said. “They just run it and run it and they get tired and I think they went that stretch of about ten minutes where they didn’t shoot very well, on the other hand we didn’t extend the lead that time either. That hurt us. We missed three free throws and a layup, so we had a possible five points to get an eight point lead and we didn’t.”
In the second half Western came out with a 22-5 run to get back into the game. Down the stretch they added 11-14 free throws to secure the victory. During this time, the Griffons shot 54 percent from the floor, and 60 percent from beyond the arc.
Dominique Thuston contributed 20 points towards the Western win, while Marcus Rhodes added 19 points, with 15 points coming in the second half and five rebounds.
“We played hard and fought through it,” Thuston said when asked about the three point shooting onslaught in the first half.
Truman also had a huge presence inside the lane with 6’10”, 280 pound, Vesko Filchev from Bulgaria. Senior Marcus Rhodes said practicing with 7’ teammate, Brandon Beck, helps prepare for such tall opposition. They kept the big man frustrated all night long only allowing him four points and eight rebounds. The Griffons seemed to take him totally out of the game, with several three-second violations and offensive charging fouls.
“Beck kind of counters our shots in practice, he makes it harder for us, so when we get to the game and we are playing against a seven footer it makes it easier,” Rhodes said.
Ethan Freeman had a double double for Truman, with 11 rebounds and 12 points. Stefan Garrison had 18 points and Alex Henderson added 15 in the game as Truman’s leading scorers.
Rhodes said what secured the third straight home win was “Sticking together, teamwork, and playing hard.”
Western’s record is now 11-5 and 6-3 in the MIAA. The Griffons will take on Pittsburg State this Saturday, Jan. 30, at home at 7:30 p.m.