Grizzlies pick up road win in Mississippi, will face No. 3 Sat.

Freshman guard Sardaar Calhoun goes for a layup at an earlier game this season.
Freshman guard Sardaar Calhoun goes for a layup at an earlier game this season.

Senatobia, Miss. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team added another road win to its season record Monday night.

The Grizzlies defeated the Northwest Mississippi Community College Rangers 96-77 in Senatobia, Mississippi. The win ups the Grizzlies' record to 7-3.

For the third game in a row, the Grizzlies held their opponent to 77 points with a reinvigorated defensive effort.

"We gave up a couple of quick baskets on the first two possessions, then we settled in," Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Chris Popp said. "Defensively, overall, we were pretty solid. We did our job on the glass."

Individual efforts stand out

The Grizzlies out-rebounded the Rangers 47-37. Burone Edwards snagged the most for the team with 11. When added to his 10 points, the sophomore forward recorded a double-double for the night.

"We were good on the glass early," the coach said. "Burone had a double-double, and Sardaar (Calhoun) showed up on the boards with seven rebounds. Sardaar played his best all-around game."

Calhoun, a freshman guard, led all scorers with 24 points. Sophomore guard Eric Lovett also scored in double figures with 14 points. Freshman forward Alex Peterson added 9.

"We took advantage of their pressure, which led to some easy baskets and open looks," Popp said of his team's offensive effort. "We have some guys who can put it in the basket when given opportunities like that."

Popp also praised the defensive efforts of freshman guard D'Andre Vilmar. "D'Andre brings a couple of specific things he does very well to the table – defending all positions and rebounding from the perimeter," the coach said.

The Grizzlies went into the halftime break with a 46-30 advantage over the Rangers, despite a short return to complacency midway through the period.

"We did what we tend to do, we started to get comfortable. But we cut it off quicker than we have recently. We refocused. That is progress," Popp said.

And, the Grizzlies didn't get caught up in the Rangers' frenetic style of play.

"Against teams like that, if you take care of the ball, you can take advantage of their pressure," he explained. "The bench, overall, did a great job in not getting caught up in the up-and-down chaos, as well. We have a lot of guys who can help us win when we need them."

Upcoming trip north includes contest with CSI

The 16th-ranked Grizzlies will head north this weekend for the Reed Overhead Door Classic at Ottumwa, Iowa, home of Indian Hills Community College. Although they won't face the hosting Warriors, they will meet the No. 3 team in the nation – College of Southern Idaho – at 5 p.m. Saturday.

"We have another big challenge with CSI. They can really score. They're scoring in the 100s on a regular basis," Popp said. "I believe we can do the same with them, but the challenge will be slowing them down."

At 3 p.m. Friday, the Grizzlies will face Carl Sandburg College from Galesburg, Illinois. The NJCAA Division II school won its conference last season. "They'll be solid," Popp predicted.

The Grizzlies' final two home games of the fall semester will be Dec. 4 against Sunrise Christian Academy from Bel Aire, Kansas, and Dec. 8 against Northern Oklahoma College-Tonkawa.

Grizzly Toy Toss Dec. 8

As in past years, the last home game of the fall semester will include the annual Grizzly Toy Toss. In its third year, the event gives fans the opportunity to bring a new or gently used soft toy to the game to toss onto the court when the Grizzlies score their first points.

Toys collected from the toss will be given to the local Toys for Tots campaign sponsored by the Marine Corps Reserve. Those who bring a toy will receive free admission to the game.

"We'd like to encourage people to bring as many new or slightly used soft toys as they can for Toys for Tots," Popp said. "All will be given to area children who are less fortunate this holiday season."

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.