The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

January 25, 2014

Southern attempts to move on against Griffons

Missouri Southern’s 79-78 loss Wednesday night at Northwest Missouri State almost produced a sleepless night for Jordan Talbert.

“I slept probably one hour,” said Talbert, the Lions’ 6-foot-6 senior forward who had 14 points and eight rebounds against the Bearcats. “It’s part of the game. We played a good game against good competition. It’s on to the next one now.”

The next one comes this afternoon when the No. 22 Lions entertain Missouri Western.

The Lions (13-3, 7-2 MIAA) are second in the conference standings, 11⁄2 games behind Northwest Missouri. Four teams have three league losses.

Missouri Western (8-9, 3-6) is tied for ninth place, and one of its victories is an 82-79 overtime decision over Fort Hays State, which beat the Lions.

The Griffons haven’t played since their 89-84 home victory over Southwest Baptist one week ago. Charlie Marquardt scored 23 points and Ryan Devers 19 for the Griffons.

“Devers, the point guard, is really good,” Lions coach Robert Corn said. “We have some really good point guards in our league this year, and Devers is right there with (DeShaun) Cooper (of Northwest Missouri) and (Craig) Nicholson (of Fort Hays State). And they have some wing players who can shoot the ball well. They have a freshman (Marquardt) on the inside who had a career night against SBU, so he’s coming here playing with a lot of confidence. We know we have a challenge ahead of us.”

Brett Weiberg, former coach at Northern Oklahoma College, is the Griffons’ new head coach after Tom Smith’s retirement last season.

“I’m sure they are running an offense now. Tom was always known for his no-offense offense,” Corn said with a laugh. “They were always fundamentally sound and played hard with Tom, and they are the same thing with Brett. He has them playing hard.”

The Lions and Northwest Missouri had nine lead changes and two ties in the last five minutes. The Lions had been ahead by 10 points at halftime, 13 points early in the second half and eight points with nine minutes left before the Bearcats rallied.

Talbert’s two free throws gave the Lions a 78-77 lead with 57 seconds left, but the Bearcats’ DeShaun Cooper nailed a contested 19-footer with 3.3 seconds to play to give the Bearcats the win.

“It’s been tough since then,” said 6-8 sophomore center Greg Renfroe, who had seven points and nine rebounds. “To lose a game at the buzzer to the No. 1 team in the conference ... but you have hurry and get over it and work for the next win. Conference isn’t over yet. There is still a chance to win a conference championship, so we have to keep striving.”

“It was a great game,” Renfroe said. “Huge atmosphere, packed house, small gym, it was back-and-forth, back-and-forth in the last 10 minutes of the game. It was one of the better games of the year. You want to think about it, but there are still 10 games left in conference. You have to keep winning and get back on track.”

“It’s already behind us,” Talbert said. “That’s something you have to get over and just move on.”

“The worst thing you can do is compound a loss by letting another loss build up because of it,” Corn said. “It wasn’t that we played poor basketball. We played probably 32 minutes of pretty dang good basketball. We obviously had mistakes in the last nine minutes with seven turnovers that you’d like to have back. By the same token, Northwest is not going to give you the game. They are going to keep battling. They picked up the pressure a little bit and we didn’t handle it as well as what we would have liked. But we can build on the 32 minutes of good basketball that we had.”

The loss also provides motivation.

“Most definitely, you see where you can get better. You see things you need to improve on,” Talbert said. “We’re not done yet. Everything we wanted to achieve before the season started is still on the table. We just have to go out and work.”

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