West Plains, Mo. – A better offensive performance in the first half helped propel the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team to its 13th win of the season.
The Grizzlies, 13-7, defeated the Arkansas Baptist College Buffaloes from North Little Rock, Arkansas, 92-62, Wednesday evening at the West Plains Civic Center.
"It was a good win," Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Chris Popp said. "It's the first time this season we've gotten a significant lead and continued to build on it, not allowing runs to make it close.
"I was very happy with the response of our team in a few key areas," he added. "Issues we have been addressing with specific emphasis were much better. That is a great sign, primarily because it shows the buy-in. These guys are coachable, and with that, we can continue to get better.
"Some of those adjustments allowed us to be much better offensively out of the gate early on," he explained. "Outside of short stretch of consecutive turnovers, we played well in the first half. Then we turned it up and played better in the second."
The teams were tied 8-8 early before the Grizzlies started pulling away. By halftime, the home team was up 39-25.
In the second half, the Grizzlies outscored the Buffaloes 53-37.
Sophomore forward Burone Edwards played a key role in the Grizzlies' performance Wednesday evening. The 6-foot, 7-inch product of San Antonio, Texas, scored 14 points, grabbed six rebounds and dished out three assists.
"Having Burone back was priceless. He set the tone early getting to the rim. Having him back was huge," Popp said.
The coach also praised the play of sophomore guard Montel Stewart and freshman guard D'Andre Vilmar who came off the bench and scored 14 and 7 points, respectively. Vilmar also added seven assists and 11 rebounds in the effort
"Montel and D'Andre came off the bench and played very well," Popp said.
"A lot of guys got an opportunity last night and, as a whole, played well," he added.
"Overall, I was pleased with our energy and our rebounding," Popp said. "Arkansas Baptist is a solid team."
Road game Saturday
The Grizzlies go on the road Saturday for a key Region 16 contest against Three Rivers College in Poplar Bluff.
Due to predicted inclement weather, the game time has been moved from 7 p.m. to 4 p.m., Popp said.
"Three Rivers is 2-1 in the region. They have a win over Mineral Area and a road win over State Fair. They're playing really well right now, and they have the leading scorer in the country right now in Tristan Jarrett."
Jarrett scored 39 against the Grizzlies during their first meeting Nov. 13 in West Plains.
"This will be our last game in the Bess Activity Center," Popp said, pointing out that Three Rivers will open a new facility later this year.
"It's been the sight of a lot of heated battles," he added.
The Grizzlies' next home game will be 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 23, against Region 16 rival State Fair Community College. The game is being sponsored by Savor Grill.
For more information about the Grizzly Basketball program, visit www.msuwpgrizzlies.com or call 417-255-7991.
For complete statistics of the Grizzlies' games this season, visit http://www.njcaa.org/sports/mbkb/2018-19/div1/teams/MissouriStateUniversityWestPlains.