Tro­jans stun Bears in sea­sonopener

The Saline Courier - - SPORTS - Spe­cial to the Courier

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

mark.

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

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