West Plains, Mo. – In the final regular season game of the 2018-2019 season, the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team fell to Moberly Area Community College 108-79 Saturday night at the West Plains Civic Center.
The game started with a 3-pointer by Moberly, and the Greyhounds never looked back.
"It felt like their game from beginning to end," Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Chris Popp said. "The way they play, aggressive, with constant pressure and energy, if you allow them to get going, there is a lot of momentum behind them, and it is difficult to get back."
Momentum was definitely in the Greyhounds favor in the first half, as they pulled to a 51-29 lead at the break.
The Grizzlies fought back to play a near even second half; however, they were never able to put together a run.
"We were better coming out the second half. There weren't a lot of adjustments to be made, more so challenges," Popp said.
"This game wasn't about the scheme, scout, or prep. It was about execution," he added. "If we are going to make a run, we will need to have the toughness and discipline to execute the game plan, do what needs to be done, and do it with a sense of urgency.
"Credit to Moberly, they executed their game plan better than we did," he said.
The Grizzlies struggled to contain the nation's leading scorer, Alonzo Verge. He finished with 38 points and eight assists.
Lovett and Calhoun also grabbed nine and 11 rebounds, respectively.
The Grizzlies honored seven sophomores honored at Saturday's game. In addition to returning sophomore Lovett, they included fellow returners Johde Campbell, Montel Stewart, Niekie Thomas and Burone Edwards, along with transfers Henri Langton and Houston Johnson.
"These young men have done a lot for our program. Everyone has a role to play on a team. In the past two seasons we have enjoyed quite a bit of success, in large part because of what this group brought on and off the court. It has been a privilege to coach them," stated Popp.
"I also want to thank our sophomore cheerleaders for all they do. Their support is huge for us and for our environment here," he added.
The Grizzlies finish the regular season with a 19-11 record. They will now face the challenge of post-season play as they enter the Region 16 Championship Tournament this week.
As the No. 2 seed, the Grizzlies receive a bye and will face No. 3 Three Rivers College for the fourth time this year at 8 p.m. Thursday in the tournament's semifinals.
No. 4 seed Mineral Area College will host No. 5 State Fair Community College tonight in Park Hills for the right to play No. 1 Moberly at 6 p.m. Thursday.
The games will be played at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.
The championship will take place at 8 p.m. Saturday at Lincoln University
"Everything leads to this," Popp said. "All of the tough games, long practices, early mornings; the battles, the adversity you fight and overcome... You go through all of it to prepare yourself to win in the post-season.
"Everything is elevated at this point. Everybody is 0-0. Win and advance. Lose and go home. Everybody is fighting for their season in each game, each possession, on each rebound, and anything can happen. It is the best time of the year," he added.
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.