Fresh off their loss to #2 Louisville on Friday, the Tigers looked to get back into the win column against the Virginia Commonwealth Rams last night. Both teams held the lead for extended periods in the game and neither could build up any sort of appreciable cushion. Missouri emerged with a hard fought 68-65 victory to claim third place in the Battle 4 Atlantis Tournament.
Missouri was out in front by a slim margin for most of the first ten minutes of the game before VCU took the reigns. The Rams ruled the roost for the next nine minutes but could never push their lead above seven. They relinquished the lead to the Tigers in the final minute of the half. The teams went into the break separated by just two points.
The Tigers started the second half out on a 5-0 run pushing their advantage to seven but VCU kept counterpunching to keep the game within reach. About six minutes into the half, Earnest Ross hit a 3-pointer for Missouri which bumped their lead up to nine – their biggest of the game – but the Rams closed the gap back to one in a matter of minutes. The Tigers responded by pushing their lead to eight only to have it erode yet again. With three minutes left in the game, Mizzou trailed by one. For the remainder of the game, it was a tight back-and-forth affair as neither team was able to get it beyond a one possession game. In the end it was Phil Pressey that made the difference, scoring the Tigers’ final five points including the key three pointer that reclaimed the lead, 66-65, with just over a minute to go.
Missouri suffered in their last game with Louisville because Laurence Bowers failed to make his presence felt. Fortunately he found his game on Saturday night and the Tigers needed everything he gave them. The senior forward led the team in points (14) and rebounds (11) to notch his second double-double of the year. Pressey didn’t have his best game but as mentioned above he was clutch at the end scoring nearly half of his eleven points in the final minute and a half. He also racked up eight assists and played in all 40 minutes of the game. Negus Webster-Chan (11), Earnest Ross (11) and Keion Bell (10) also scored in double figures providing the Tigers with a balanced attack. They collectively shot 49.1% (28-57) for the game, were 8-19 from three and out rebounded the Rams 36-25.
Pacing the VCU offense were three players who each chipped in twelve points. Junior forward Juvonte Reddic just missed a double-double finishing with nine rebounds. Sophomore guard Treveon Graham filled up his stat line with five rebounds and five assists in addition to his dozen points. Troy Daniels was only 4-11 from the floor but all of the senior guard’s attempts were from behind the arc.
The two teams attempted just six free throws apiece and were called for just 24 fouls combined. The refs let the Tigers and Rams play and it made what was already a competitive game that much more exciting.
Missouri (5-1) will travel home and get ready to host Appalachian State Mountaineers (1-4) on December 1st at Mizzou Arena. Their next five games will be played at home culminating with a showdown against Illinois on the 22nd.
Virginia Commonwealth (3-3) will host Stetson (2-1) on November 28th and then Belmont (5-1) on December 1st.