By Alex Neupert, Sports Editor
After first proving themselves worthy of a spot in the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) postseason tournament by defeating Maryville last Thursday, the University of Missouri—St. Louis men and women’s basketball teams found themselves facing the Bulldogs of Truman State University in the first round of the tourney on February 28. Coming in as the 11th and 12th seeds, respectively, the Tritons had hoped to extend their season further with wins against their fellow Missourians, but after two very hard-fought games in Kirksville, Missouri, UMSL would return home empty-handed.
The women took to the court first. After facing Truman State twice before in the 2015-2016 season, both overtime affairs that ended in a win and a loss against the Bulldogs, the Tritons came into the first-round game knowing the next round was well within reach. The home team, however, had other plans for the afternoon, defeating UMSL in a close matchup 69-61. Truman State managed to stave off the Tritons last-ditch assault, forcing a missed three-point attempt from Shea O’Brien, junior, elementary education, down four points with 30 seconds remaining. From there, the Tritons were forced to foul out and the rest, as they say, is history.
Both teams got off to a slow start, accounting for only 17 points in total in the first quarter. Nearly three minutes had passed before either team scored with a three-pointer from UMSL’s Jordan Boyce, junior, psychology, getting things started. A 7-0 run from Truman State to end the quarter, however, gave them a slight early edge. The Bulldogs continued their barrage with six more points to start the second quarter before the Tritons got back on track. They broke for halftime with UMSL trailing 22-24.
The Triton women took their first lead since the first quarter early in the third, but Truman State quickly retaliated with a 5-0 run to extend their lead to 10. Despite still fighting in the final quarter, UMSL could not put a string of baskets together to force the issue, and the Bulldogs took the game 90-84 to advance to the next round of the GLVC tournament.
The men’s team started off on a high note as everyone got involved in scoring. Tre Ogles, senior, management and communications, and Joseph English, junior, communications, helped lead the team off the bench with team highs of 20 and 17. The Tritons took a 40-39 lead into halftime off the strength of the team’s shooting, a 56 percent clip in the first half, but Truman State would respond in force following the break in action.
The Bulldogs came out of halftime a different team as they rode a 13-5 run to a six-point lead within the opening minutes of the second half. A timely three-pointer from Ogles tied the game up before Truman State again strung together several shots to distance themselves from UMSL. But the Tritons could not be defeated easily and kept up with the home team, matching them shot-for-shot as time wound down. However well UMSL shot, though, the Bulldogs were that much better as their 68 percent field goal percentage put them just out of range of the Tritons.
While the seasons have ended for UMSL’s basketball teams, they both made strides throughout the year to improve to this point. The graduating seniors will be missed, but the teams will evolve and new players will rise to the occasion. Stay tuned with The Current as softball and baseball season is now underway!