The Hannibal-LaGrange University men's basketball team played its first post-season game in a decade inside the Mabee Sports Complex.
The Hannibal-LaGrange University men's basketball team played its first post-season game in a decade inside the Mabee Sports Complex. It faced Harris-Stowe State University (16-13) in the quarterfinals after finishing the season ranked third in the American Midwest Conference (AMC). HLGU had won two games this semester against the Hornets and that trend continued on Thursday evening with a 84-69 victory.
Brady Smith (SO/Licking, Mo.) was able to get things started with a dunk to open up the scoring for the Trojans. But things did not start well as HSSU jumped out to 9-2 lead. Michael Hood (FR/Advance, Mo.) was able to hit a 3 to get the large HLGU crowd on its feet. The Hornets began to get hot near the end of the first half and they took a 30-23 lead with 3:03 on the clock. Clay Thebeau (SR/Montgomery City, Mo.) hit a high-pressure 3 late in the half to get the MSC crowd jumping. As the buzzer sounded, the Trojans trailed 33-31.
The halftime speech from Coach Durst ignited HLGU started the second half on a 17-0 run (48-33). The Hornets were beginning to cut into the Trojans lead when Thebeau hit back to back 3s which forced a HSSU timeout. HLGU began to force things which caused several turnovers and allowed the visitors to trim the lead to 10 points with 3:30 remaining. Tyrone Hueitt Jr. (SR/Chula Vista, Calif.) was clutch from the free throw line as he went 9-11 on the night. The Trojans scored 53 points in the second half and shot 52.6 percent from behind the arc (10-19). The team also crashed the boards hard, collecting 42 rebounds with 10 of them being on the offensive end. The Hornets shot 43.3 percent from the field but struggled at the free throw line going 8-15.
Coach Durst added, "Our guys gave a great second half effort on both ends of the floor. We stepped up our defensive intensity and executed our offense. We are excited to keep our season alive and continue to the next round."
HLGU had a well rounded offensive effort with four players getting into double digits. Smith had 25 point and 10 rebounds collecting another double-double on the season. Hueitt Jr. was very efficient with 16 points and nine rebounds. Ryan Ward (JR/Hartville, Mo.) had 13 while Hood contributed 11. Thebeau was a perfect 3-3 from behind the arc off the bench.
Next up is a trip to Parkville, Mo., to play against Park University (AMC No. 2 seed) on Saturday, March 2. The Pirates won their quarterfinal game 60-45 over Lyon College. On the other side of the bracket, Missouri Baptist University beat Columbia College 52-51 and Central Baptist College upset William Woods University 58-50.