For the second season in a row the Missouri Western men’s basketball team beat the Southwest Baptist Bearcats to move into the second round of the MIAA Tournament. Western the 4th seed defeated the 5th seed Bearcats 82-72 behind 22 points from senior Marcus Rhodes.
Western shot a sizzling 61.0-percent (25-41) from the field improving their overall record to 18-10 overall. Western used two five point runs early in the game to claim a slim two point lead at 10-8 with 14:05 left in the first half after Rhodes drained a three point shot. The Griffons dominated the next nine minutes of the ball game going on an 18-6 run claiming a 14 point lead with 5:52 to play after Dominique Thuston dumped in a lay-up.
Western finished the off the half with the 14 point lead at 40-26 as they outscored the Bearcats 16-8 in the paint and 15-2 off the bench. Western also scored 14 points off eight Bearcat turnovers. Western got a nice lift off the bench from Justin Taylor as he connected on 4-of-5 long range shots scoring 12 points off the bench. The Griffons shot 61.5-percent (16-26) from the field and 58.3-percent (7-12) from long range. Thuston dumped in 10 points in the half. The Bearcats were led by Ryan Dougherty as he had 13 points leading all scorers.
Western pushed their lead to 20 at 48-28 early in the second half after a Thuston long range shot with 15:50 remaining. The Bearcats did not go away as they cut the Griffon lead to eight at 52-44 with 11:51 to play.
The Griffons remained calm hitting their free throws down the stretch and not letting the Bearcats get any closer then seven points at 62-55 with 7:35 to play. Western hit 22-of-29 free throws in the second half to seal the big victory.
The Bearcats out rebounded Western 15-to-5 on the offensive end of the floor and forced 20 Griffon turnovers but could only turn those turnovers into 19 points. Western had 13 assists on their 25 field goals and had five steals in the contest. Western outscored the Bearcats 28-20 in the paint.
Western had three other players finish in double figures as Thuston, Taylor and James Bush finished with 17, 17 and 12 respectively. Western made 9-of-16 three point shots and 23-of-30 from the charity stripe.
SBU was led by Dougherty and Jacob French as they finished with 18 points apiece. SBU shot 41.7-percent (25-60) from the field and just 52.2-percent (12-23) from the free throw line.
The Griffons will play in the second round of the MIAA Tournament in Kansas City, Mo. on Saturday, March 6th at 6:00 pm against the 8th seeded Washburn Ichabods. All games will be played in Municipal Auditorium. Story courtesy of Missouri Western Athletics.