Bronchos Comeback Falls Short
Senior guard Marqueese Grayson, No. 10, dribbles in front of an opponent from Missouri Southern in Hamilton Field House on Jan. 27. (Gerald Leong/The Vista)
A 61-point first half from Missouri Southern State University led to the University of Central Oklahoma men’s basketball team’s sixth loss of the season.
UCO moved to 14-6 on the season and 7-4 in conference play.
After trailing 61-36 at the end of the first half, the Bronchos slowly started to chip away at the Lions lead. With just under five minutes remaining in the game, Jordan London grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a 3-pointer. UCO, who had trailed by as many as 27 points, was now down just three.
“We just started playing with a lot more passion and a lot more purpose,” UCO Head Coach Tom Hankins said. “In order for us to be really good, which we can be, we’ve got to bring it every minute of every game.”
Marqueese Grayson hit a 3-pointer with 22 seconds left to pull the Bronchos within two. The crowd started to roar, trying to give UCO the energy to get just one more stop, but after a failed attempt at a steal, the Lions hit their free throws from the intentional foul to seal the game, winning 95-89.
Grayson finished the game with 27 points on 8-16 shooting, to go along with seven rebounds
“He really stepped up and wanted to win,” Hankins said. “That’s the guy, when we recruited him, we thought he could have some nights like that.”
Hankins credited Alex Ogunseye with helping lead the comeback. Ogunseye played in one game prior to Saturday night, but he scored eight points in what Hankins said were some crucial moments.
It was energy that Hankins said helped the Bronchos come back, but it was also a lack of energy why they were down so much in the first place.
“We didn’t come out ready to play,” Hankins said. “[I’m] just disappointed in our effort in the first half.”
Hankins said it is easy for teams to play with a lot of effort when they are making shots, but the great teams play with effort even when their shots are not falling.
UCO missed two layups to start the game, while Missouri Southern hit three of their first four shots. The Bronchos fell behind 18-4 early and Hankins said the Bronchos poor rebounding efforts was one of the reasons.
UCO –the sixth best rebounding team in MIAA– was unable to keep Missouri Southern off the glass in the first half, losing the rebounding war 28-12. Missouri Southern guard, Elyjah Clark had nine rebounds in the first period, which was just three shy of the entire Bronchos roster.
Missouri Southern’s 14 first half offensive rebounds, which lead to 23 second chance points, helped them get to the line 20 times in the first half, where they knocked down 16 of their attempts.
Hankins again brought up his team’s lack of effort when discussing why they were out-rebounded so heavily in the first half.
The Bronchos, who allow 66.3 points per game, allowed 61 points in the first half alone, with Missouri Southern shooting 58 percent from 3-point territory during the first half.
UCO travels to Warrensburg, Missouri on Thursday to play Central Missouri in another MIAA conference matchup.