By Alex Neupert, Sports Editor
While the two games on February 25 saw both the University of Missouri—St. Louis men and women’s basketball teams emerge triumphant against their Maryville University opponents, qualifying both squads for the Great Lakes Valley Conference (GLVC) postseason tournament, the stories behind them are vastly different. For the men, who came into the matchup sporting a 5-12 conference record, they greatly outmatched the home-team Saints, maintaining a sizeable lead for much of the contest. The Tritons led by as much as 31 points at one point en route to the 81-66 victory and their 11th seed placing in the tournament, which begins on February 28.
The women’s team, on the other hand, found themselves fighting for their postseason life in a game that found them scoring the final points for the lead with seconds on the clock. Despite trailing Maryville 29-34 at the half, the Triton women persevered, limiting the Saints to a 28 field goal percentage in the second half while shooting 50 percent from the field themselves. With three seconds left in the game, Sydney Bloch, junior, business and criminology, fed the game-winning layup to Jordan Fletcher, redshirt sophomore, finance. The 62-60 win for UMSL inched them by Maryville for the final seed (12) in the tournament.
The game started off much how it began, with both teams trading blows throughout the first two quarters, but the Saints kept some small distance between themselves and the Tritons off the strength of strong shooting; Maryville had an astonishing 70 percent field goal (FG) percentage through the first half. Immediately following halftime, they attained their greatest lead over UMSL with a seven-point margin, but by the end of the third quarter, both teams were all tied up.
Keeping to the same tune as the first half, the final quarter saw both teams exchanging baskets as time wound down. The Tritons ultimately came out on top, however, as the team outscored the Saints 7-2 in the final minute. Along with Fletcher, who accounted for 16 points and nine rebounds, Shea O’Brien, junior, elementary education, was amazing off the bench once again with a team-high 19 points with four three-pointers. The guard is becoming quite a strong player for UMSL, scoring 56 total points over the last three games with a 53 FG percentage; an average of 18.7 a game.
The men’s matchup followed, and while not as excitingly close as the women’s game, it still provided a showcase as to what the squad can do when the whole team is in sync. The scoring was fairly spread out, with four players hitting double digits, including two off the bench. Additionally, the Tritons kept the ball moving with 23 assists overall, the most they have had since December 20. Clearly, keeping the opposing defenders moving and off-balance proved to be a key point in this decisive game as, the last time they played, the Saints were the victors when the Tritons only managed 12 assists.
UMSL maintained control throughout the game, and after the 10-minute mark in the first half, Maryville never got within single digits. It was hard to pinpoint what went wrong for the home team, as their shooting percentage was far from abysmal and they did not have a high amount of turnovers. The Tritons were simply a force to be reckoned with as they shot their way to the finish line.
Hunter Reine, junior, criminal justice, and Brandon Marquardt, senior, business administration, led the team with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Marquardt also broke the single season three-point record for UMSL with 86 on the year thus far, surpassing previous record-holder Troy Long’s 84 in the 2011-2012 season. He had five from behind the arc on the evening.
Both the men and women’s teams will play their first-round game in the GLVC postseason tournament on February 28 against Truman State, the number 6 (men’s) and 5 (women’s) seed. While not in next week’s issue of The Current, you can read a recap online after the games at thecurrent-online.com. The women start at 1 p.m. and the men at 3 p.m.