Grizzlies now 16-8 after splitting games this week

Members of the team gather in a huddle on the court with hands raised together and a finger on one hand making a "1" sign.

West Plains, Mo. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team's record now stands at 16-8 after splitting the two games on its schedule this week.

Monday, the Grizzlies defeated Faith Preparatory Academy from West Memphis, Arkansas, 123-86 at the West Plains Civic Center, but they dropped their first Region 16 game of the season Wednesday evening when they fell to the Moberly Area Community College Greyhounds 106-87 in Moberly.

The Grizzlies' Region 16 record is now 2-1, while the Greyhounds, who are 19-5 overall, are 5-0 in region play and riding a 12-game winning streak.

"It wasn't all about what we did," Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Chris Popp said of the Moberly game. "You have to give credit to them. They got it going."

"Two huge keys for us against them was taking care of the ball and rebounding. We did our job on the boards. Turnovers were an issue, though. The way they happened turned them into easy baskets," he added.

Unofficial statistics show the Grizzlies committed 20 turnovers during the game.

The Grizzlies kept the game close early and had the Greyhounds in a 2-point game with seven minutes remaining in the first half. Turnovers and missed buckets, though, allowed the home team to go on a run that put the Grizzlies behind 53-41 at the break.

"We hadn't played great to that point (the seven minute mark) in the first half and were only down two. I honestly felt like we were in a good position," Popp said.

"A couple of missed shots and a couple of turnovers that turned into baskets, and suddenly we were on our heels," he added said.

The Grizzlies tried to keep pace with the Greyhounds after halftime, but late in the second period, more costly mistakes allowed Moberly to go on another scoring run.

"We came out okay, but we weren't far in the half when they made another run. Twelve points turned into 20, and all of a sudden, we were trying to dig out of a deep hole against a very good team," the coach said. "You can't give up runs on the road against a team like that."

The Grizzlies fell into a common trap that hampers most teams against Moberly – countering the team's frenetic defense.

"That's what they do. They pressure, run and jump, mix up press defenses. They'll give you easy baskets, but then you have stretches when you fall into the trap and get sped up," Popp explained.

"We did have a few players who played well in a tough environment," the coach said. "Dravon Clayborn did a great job handling the pressure and creating in the broken court. D'Andre Vilmar was big with that, as well. Johde Campbell and Alex Peterson both came ready and produced."

Leading scorers for the Grizzlies were sophomore guard Eric Lovett with 20 points, freshman guard Sardaar Calhoun with 17 and freshman point guard Clayborn with 16. Lovett also had six rebounds, and Clayborn recorded eight assists.

Faith Prep game 

Against Faith Prep, the Grizzlies turned in a much better performance.

"We did what we were supposed to do out of the gate," Popp said of Monday's contest. "We maintained the discipline."

Seven Grizzlies scored in double figures. Sophomore guard Johde Campbell led the way with 26 points. He was followed by sophomore guard Eric Lovett with 16; freshman guard Sardaar Calhoun and sophomore forward Henri Langton each with 13; sophomore guard Houston Johnson with 11; and freshman guard Dravon Clayborn and sophomore guard Montel Stewart each with 10.

"It was great to see Johde get it going. He shoots the ball with confidence, and it always seems like it's going to go in," Popp said. "Eric set the ton. He came out on fire from the start.

"Henri played well," the coach added. "Faith Prep had a legit big, and Henri did very well against him. He tends to be at his best against other true bigs."

Every active player on the Grizzlies' roster saw playing time Monday.

"It's always great when everyone can get involved in the game," Popp said. "Everybody on our bench can play. From top to bottom, we have good players, and they all had the opportunity to showcase what they can do."

The Grizzlies' next home game is Tuesday, Feb. 5, against Region 16 rival Mineral Area College of Park Hills. This game was rescheduled from Jan. 12 due to weather. Tipoff is 7 p.m.

"Our loss to Moberly makes Tuesday's game against Mineral Area that much more important," Popp said. "We have to protect our own court."

For more information about the Grizzly Basketball program, call 417-255-7991.

For complete statistics of the Grizzlies' games this season, visit www.njcaa.org/sports/mbkb/2018-19/div1/teams/MissouriStateUniversityWestPlains.