Sometimes, you just face a team with a hot hand.
“We knew they were a good shooting team,” head coach Dickie Nutt told us after the game.
“When a team shoot that good, it’s hard to beat them,” junior guard Marland Smith added. But even if we could have played a little bit better, got a few more stops, we could have won the game.”
In the first half, it didn’t look like the Redhawks were going to get any stops behind the arc. UMKC hits 7 of their first 8 three pointers, 13 total 3’s on the game, as the Kangaroos escaped a late surge from the Redhawks 74-69.
That early 7 of 8 streak was highlighted from a 27-footer by Reggie Chamberlain, made with a hand in his face and the shot clock expiring.
“I could tell the way the night was going when they launched about a 40-footer when the shot clock was going down in the first half,” Nutt said. “That’s how their night was going.”
SEMO was able to keep the game within single digits throughout much of the first half thanks to a stellar offensive performance from Smith, who finished the game with 21 points, and a game high 6 assists. But on what was supposed to be the final possession of the first half, the Redhawks were stripped, leading to a Kangaroos three as time expired, putting the Kangaroos up by 13 at half time.
That lead would expand to as much as 16 points in the second half. But it wouldn’t stay there for long. Missouri-Kansas City soon found their stellar shooting from waning in the second half, allowing SEMO to stage a methodical comeback.
Slowly, using a calculated driving attack that put the Redhawks in the bonus less than 8 minutes into the half, SEMO cut the lead back to 10 with 12:49 to play. The Kangaroos we able to keep the game at double digits for another three minutes, until a layup with 9:09 to go brought the Redhawks back within 8.
UMKC would respond 2 possessions later, with yet another timely three point shot from Trinity Hall, pushing the lead back to 11.
The Redhawks would respond. SEMO went on a 10-1 run over the next 3:12 seconds, pulling to within 2, 58-56, after a pair of free throws by Smith.
But as was the story of the night, on the next possession, the Kangaroos hit yet another big 3.
“They were shooting lights out,” said senior forward Leon Powell. “It seemed like everything they threw up went in.”
Before the Redhawks could close the now 5 point gap, Chamberlain hit the team’s 13th 3-point shot, and the lead was 8 again. And from there, the Redhawks and Kangaroos traded baskets down the stretch, with UMKC pulling out the 5 point win.
After the game, Powell and Smith came into the media room for interviews. Smith talked to us openly for the first two minutes, while Powell just stared at the stat sheet, clearly dejected.
Lost in all of this was that Powell had a solid game as well, finishing with his 3rd double-double of the season (21 points, 10 rebounds) and once again was able to stay out of foul trouble, something that plagued him in the early part of the year.
But when he did talk, you could tell how disappointed he was with the loss.
“Most teams we’ve been playing the last couple of days are not known as shooting teams, but when we play them, after every game, they have career day. I put it on the defense,” Powell said. “We can score with anyone, it’s just defense.”
While Nutt told us he didn’t agree with Powell’s remark, he did acknowledge a win slipped through his team’s fingers.
“Winnable game.” Nutt said. “We felt like we let that game get away.