The men’s basketball team traveled to the Leggett & Platt Athletic Center in Joplin to take on the Missouri Southern State University (MSSU) Lions on Saturday, Feb. 20. The Gorillas weren’t able to overcome MSSU’s lead and lost the game by nearly twenty points (74-93).
“I don’t think we played very well,” said Head Coach Kim Anderson. “…I thought that Southern came out and did a really good job of attacking us. Our defense was not very good early in the game and consequently that puts us behind and it’s hard to come back against a team like Southern… We only have two games left…”
Missouri Southern led at the break 55-34 and maintained that lead throughout the rest of the game. The MSSU Lions led by as many as 31 points in the second half. The Lions (12-8 overall) made 16 three-point field goals while shooting 52.2 percent from the field.
“I would say that no one really played great,” Anderson said. “I think R.J. Lawrence came off the bench and scored 14 points and Martin Vogts scored 13… We didn’t play well. We didn’t shoot the ball very well. We let them shoot the ball at a crazy astronomical pace in the first half… We had some guys play okay, but not good enough to win.”
R.J. Lawrence, sophomore in marketing, led the Gorillas with 14 points.
“We came out flat,” Lawrence said. “(We) played hard but I just don’t think that we played to our best abilities…”
In agreement with Anderson, Lawrence thought that the match up against MSSU revealed that team needs to improve on the defensive end.
“… Defense,” Lawrence said. “…We get all the momentum from the defensive side… When there’s flaws in the defense then (that) kind of sets the tone for the rest of the game. So, (we need to work on) just making sure that we’re staying solid and fundamentally sound on defense.”
The Gorillas will close out the regular season at home against the Emporia State University Hornets Thursday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. and Newman University Jets on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 3:30 p.m. Both games will be held in Whetzel Court in the John Lance Arena.
Anderson hopes to see the team bounce back after the loss against MSSU in the last two games of the season.
“Fortunately, we’re playing at home and we haven’t played at home for a couple weeks now,” Anderson said. “So, I’m hoping that we’ll rebound from our performances. We played three of the top teams in the league on the road in the last two weeks, so it’s been a grind. Now we’re home and hopefully we’ll have some students and fans come out and watch us play. If we can play well and win a couple of games, we’ll be able to go into the postseason tournament.”
The Gorillas overall record is 10-10.
The first round of the MIAA postseason tournament is set to begin Wednesday, March 3.