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Griffons suffer tough loss in Maryville

Northwest Missouri State jumped out 9-0 three minutes in Saturday’s contest at Bearcat Arena, and the Missouri Western men’s basketball team was unable to recover, falling 72-54 to the first-place Bearcat squad.
The loss drops the Griffons to 7-10 in the MIAA and 11-13 overall while the Bearcats improve to 13-4 in the conference and 20-5 overall.
The Griffons stayed within four points when they faced their rivals in January in the MWSU Fieldhouse and played a back-and-forth game in which the Bearcats were narrowly able to escape with a win. This game would never be that close down the stretch as the previous meeting.
“We just throw it away and move on to the next game and try to get better everyday in practice,” Western forward Kevin Thomas said.
The biggest and most obvious difference in Saturday’s loss was that the Bearcats had freshman point guard Justin Pitts, who was forced to miss the previous meeting in St. Joseph. Pitts leads Northwest in scoring with 16.2 points per game and is also second on the team in assists.
Pitts is also shooting over 50 percent from behind the arc and is 56 percent for the field.
The freshman from Blue Springs did not disappoint a packed Bearcat Arena, as he finished with 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting.
“I thought [Pitts] had a very good second half,” coach Brett Weiberg said. “Obviously we didn’t do a good job of keeping him out of the paint, but he’s hard to keep out of the paint.”
Pitts had help from Grant Cozad and Conner Crooker who each contributed 16 points of their own to the effort.
“[Cozad] played well early,” Weiberg said. “We probably missed a couple box-outs and that let their inside game get going and freed up the perimeter play.”
Griffon senior Cortrez Colbert did his best to keep the visitors in the game, netting 20 points of his own. Thomas added 15, while Dareon Jones got 11.
The Griffons were snake-bitten by poor shooting by their supporting players. The Western players, other than Jones, Colbert, and Thomas shot 3-for-22 from the field.
“Really, we can just look at the shot attempts – its going to be hard to win games,” Weiberg said. “So if you’re going to take 22 shots among the other guys, you have to make more than three.”
The Griffons will be back in action Saturday at home against Southwest Baptist at 3:30 p.m.

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