No one would have expected a game between the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzlies and Indian Hills Community College Warriors would be decided by a team scoring 60 points or less, but that's exactly what happened Feb. 7 at the West Plains Civic Center.
Despite a history of exciting, high-scoring games, the Grizzlies and their nationally-ranked visitors from Ottumwa, Iowa, battled to a 57-53 overtime finale in the Warriors' favor that left coaches, players and even the fans at the West Plains Civic Center a bit stunned.
"I'm really surprised with the low scoring," Grizzly Head Coach Brian Ostermann said after the game. "The first half was fairly ugly on both teams' part. You have to give credit to the defenses in that situation."
First half statistics show the Grizzlies (17-8) hit nine-of-27 2-point attempts (16 percent), two-of-12 3-point attempts (16.7 percent) and four-of-13 free throw attempts (30.8 percent).
The Warriors (22-3), ranked ninth in this week's National Junior College Athletic Association (NJCAA) poll, didn't fare much better. They connected on 10-of-30 2-point attempts (33.3 percent), zero-of-seven 3-point attempts, and one-of-three free throw attempts (33.3 percent).
Both teams picked up their scoring in the second half, but not nearly enough to overcome a very cold start. The Grizzlies hit nine-of-27 2-point attempts (33.3 percent), three-of-14 3-point shots (21.4 percent) and nine-of-13 free throws (69.2 percent), while Indian Hills snared 11-of-23 2-pointers (47.8 percent), one-of-seven 3-pointers (14.3 percent) and zero-of-two attempts from the charity stripe.
"We did a horrible job at the free throw line in the first half, and we really dug ourselves a hole," Ostermann said. "But you have to give credit to the guys for digging out. I thought they fought really hard for us to come back from 16 points down to overtime. This shows persistence."
Scoring came slowly in the first half for both teams. At the halfway mark of the 20-minute period, the Grizzlies were leading by a score of only 11-5. The Warriors came back, though, to take a 21-14 advantage at the halftime break. Indian Hills built that lead to 16 points before the Grizzlies rallied to knot the score at 44-44 at the end of regulation. The Grizzlies held a brief two-point lead early in the overtime period with a bucket from freshman center David Collins, but the Warriors battled back for the win.
Only two Grizzlies scored in double figures. They were sophomore point guard Tyrone Brazelton, who led all scorers with 17 points, and freshman Ronald White with 12.
"We were a step out of rhythm and had poor shot selections," Ostermann said. "It's hard to win games when you don't make the shots. But thankfully, our defense let us play with the No. 9 team in the nation. You hope something like this will make our team better, especially when our second-leading scorer and top rebounder returns."
That player, freshman wing Johnnie McLawhorn, continues to be sidelined by an ankle injury, and his return is pending, team officials said.
For complete coverage of Grizzly basketball, including game statistics, visit the team's Web site at http://www.wp.missouristate.edu/Grizzly/....