Men’s basketball splits road trip, defeats former coach

The men’s basketball team went 1-1 on the road this week after facing off against two conference rivals and its former head coach. 

The Bulldogs traveled to Evansville, Indiana, for their Thursday night contest against the 12-4 University of Southern Indiana Screaming Eagles. Truman was only down four points at the half despite a slow shooting start. From behind the three point line, the Bulldogs only made one of their 13 attempts in the half. Overall, they were 12 of 31 from the field, posting a 38.7% field goal percent. The Eagles were led by junior forward Emmanuel Little, who eclipsed his season scoring average of 15.7 points per game by tallying 17 points in the first half, making seven of 12 attempts from the field.

Brodric Thomas led the comeback effort by scoring 17 of his 20 points in the second half. Overall, the team greatly increased its shooting percentage in the second half with marks of 51.9% from the field and 53.8% from three point range. Truman got into foul trouble in the second half, committing 19 personal fouls and sending the Eagles to the free throw line 29 times, where they converted 25 of those attempts. Cade McKnight, the Bulldog’s second leading scorer of the year, was only able to play 21 minutes as a result of fouling out. Six other Bulldogs had at least three fouls, and three of them had four personal fouls called on them. Unfortunately, the ’Dogs comeback attempt came up short, as USI came away with the 79-76 victory. The loss made Truman’s road win percentage fall to .500 in their eight road games on the year.

The Bulldogs looked to bounce back as they finished the road trip in Lebanon, Illinois, against McKendree University. The Bearcats’ head coach is the former Truman State University head coach of four years, Chris Foster, who took over at McKendree last year. 

“There’s definitely a little more motivation,” guard Turner Scott said about facing his former coach. “It’s still a little weird seeing him on the other side line, but it’s nice to see McKendree.”

Both teams played an evenly matched contest in the first half. With neither team able to gain a big advantage, the Bulldogs and Bearcats both made four of their three point attempts. The ’Dogs pulled together a one point lead going into halftime after shooting 41.67% from the field and allowing McKendree to shoot 50% on field goal attempts. 

Truman had a big second half, outscoring the Bearcats by 16 on its way to an 82-65 win. The ’Dogs dominated on the glass, grabbing 41 rebounds, 18 of which came on the offensive end, while the Bearcats only had 23 total rebounds. Alex McQuinn and Thomas led the way with nine and eight rebounds respectively. Thomas was a force offensively, racking up 22 points and dishing out eight assists. Three other Bulldogs scored in double figures as well: McKnight, Scott and Hunter Strait. This was Truman’s eighth win against a conference opponent this year, while only suffering two losses. The Bulldogs also pushed their record to 2-0 when facing off against Foster while coaching at McKendree. 

Truman’s record is now 12-6 on the year and with its 8-2 conference record, the Bulldogs currently sit in second place in the GLVC, tied with Bellarmine University and Rockhurst University.

This week Truman will try to avenge its early season loss to Rockhurst. Last time they played, the Hawks won a very close, low scoring game in Kansas City. Truman lost the turnover battle, giving the ball away 19 times compared to the Hawks’ 11 turnovers. Despite holding Rockhurst to 35.8% shooting from the field, the Hawks won 59-56. 

“Last time we played them we were struggling scoring the ball,” Strait said. “We weren’t making small easy plays that led us to get easy buckets. I still feel we are very good defensively like we were then when we held them to 56 points, but now we feel we are way more capable of scoring in a variety of different ways.” 

Rockhurst is coming into the game on a four-game win streak, but the Bulldogs are still undefeated at home with a 6-0 record in Pershing Arena. Both teams have identical season records of 12-6, as well as conference records of 8-2. Truman will try to even up the season series in its annual black-out game on Jan. 30 in Pershing Arena.