Trojans stun Bears in seasonopener
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Little Rock fought back from a 6-point halftime deficit and Ruot Monyyong hit the gamewinning shot with 2.3 seconds remaining, propelling the Trojans to a 67-66 win over Missouri State at JQH Arena in Springfield.
“I think our team grew up a little bit tonight,” said Head Coach Darrell Walker. “It was good to see we didn’t flinch when they went on their runs
and we had some young guys step up in big moments. This was a big win for this team, especially on the road against a good team.”
All nine Trojan players that saw action recorded at least two points on the night, led by 13 points with eight rebounds from Ben Coupet Jr. in his Trojan debut. Markquis Nowell added 12 points, including going 4 for 4 from the free-throw line, with Jaizec Lottie adding 10 points off the bench.
Ruot Monyyong had a stellar debut for the Trojans as well, finishing with nine points and seven rebounds, including the game-winning shot as the time expired. Alsean Evans finished with eight points with six points for Kris Bankston.
As a team, Little Rock shot 51.9 percent from the floor, hitting 27 of 52 shots on the night, and going 10 of 15 from the free-throw line. Little Rock committed just 13 turnovers, four less than its season average from 2018-19, while limiting the Bears to 42.6 percent from the floor as Missouri State made just 8 of 28 3-point attempts.
The win over Missouri State is Little Rock’s first over the Bears, snapping the seven-game losing streak. Little Rock is now 42-40 in season-openers and has won six of the last eight, registering its first season-opening victory on the road since the 57-47 win over SMU to start the 2010-11 season.
First Half Notes
Coupet Jr. got off to a fast start in his Trojan debut, making three of his first four attempts and scoring seven of Little Rock’s first nine points, giving Little Rock the early 9-7 lead.
Missouri State used a 10-2 run to pull ahead 17-11, but Little Rock responded with an 11-4 run of its own, taking the 22-21 lead on a three from Monyyong at the 7:56
The Bears built their largest lead of the game at 31-24 with 5:22 remaining in the opening half, a deficit that was dwindled down to three at 34-31 off a pair of free throws from Nowell with 2:23 remaining.
Little Rock shot 50 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, hitting 13 of 26 shots, and committed seven turnovers while limiting Missouri State to 47 percent shooting, including just 4 of 16 from 3-point range.
Coupet led all players in the first half with 11 points and six rebounds, shooting 5 of 6 from the floor while hitting his lone 3-point attempt. Eight different Trojans scored at least two points in the opening 20 minutes. Second Half Notes
After trailing by six at the half, Little Rock forced a pair of turnovers early in the second half and pulled to within one at 46-45 with 12:41 remaining.
Back-to-back baskets by Nowell pulled Little Rock to within three at 52-49 with
8:38 remaining. Following a turnover, Little Rock had a chance to trim the deficit to one, but a missed layup