Strong second half pushes Griffons past Rockhurst 60-45

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James Harris dropped 18 points and added 4 steals in the win over Rockhurst University. *Photo by Jason Brown

Missouri Western Men’s Basketball improved to 2-1 after defeating Rockhurst University 60-45 in the Hillyard Classic at MWSU Fieldhouse on Nov. 17.

The Griffons started slow on offense as Rockhurst took a 31-26 lead into halftime yet only allowed 14 points in the entire second half.

“I want performance and I want accountability,” coach Tom Smith said. “I thought the guys in the second half gave us that accountability.”

A 3-point shot by Adarius Fulton and then old fashioned 3-point play by Cedric Clinkscales tied the game at 42 and the Griffons didn’t look back. Rockhurst was stuck on 42 points for the next six minutes while Western continued to score, pushing the lead to 53-42.

“One thing coach keeps preaching is moving the ball and playing as a team,” guard James Harris said. “We just get easier buckets when we play together.”

Harris led the Griffons in scoring with 18 points on 6-for-10 shooting off the bench. He also provided a big spark on defense with his four momentum-changing steals.

“The best thing about James has been his attitude of coming off the bench,” Smith said. “I don’t think he’s sulked about it and he’s just relished it. Coming off the bench, he feels that he can give us some offense.”

Point guard Adarius Fulton added 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting and also impacted the game with eight rebounds and four assists. Smith trusts Fulton to make the right basketball play down the stretch.

“I’m different than a lot of coaches,” Smith said. “I’m old school and I play the people that I trust on the floor.”

Big man Cedric Clinkscales score 12 points on 4-for-4 shooting in 20 minutes. Foul trouble kept him out for a large stretch in the first half.

The Griffons kept their poise and bounced back from a disappointing loss on Nov. 16 against William Jewell.

“We wanted to do it for the home crowd,” Clinkscales said. “They came out and show support and we felt like we let them down last night. We wanted to set the tone and win tonight.”

Smith felt that Rockhurst could have been worn out from facing a physical Northwest Missouri State team on Nov. 16 and expects to see a different version of the team when the Griffons travel to Kansas City on Nov. 24.

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