Cold shooting night, foul problems costly in Miner defeat.
The Missouri S&T men's basketball team was wildly successful at getting shots during Wednesday's non-conference tilt against Southeastern Oklahoma State at the Gale Bullman Multi-Purpose Building.
Making those shots was a different story.
The Miners took a whopping 34 more attempts from the field than did the Southeastern Oklahoma Savage Storm on Wednesday. However, S&T hit just 33 percent of them and was beaten 79-72.
The Miners fall to 1-1 while the Storm improve to 2-0.
Each team made 26 shots from the field. However, S&T needed 78 attempts to do so compared to the Storm's 44 (59 percent).
S&T head coach Jim Glash felt part of the problem was an impatience by some of his younger guards, pointing out that one more pass during many possessions would have led to some wide-open three-point attempts or uncontested layups.
"We had 40 minutes of playing as hard as we can, (but) the shooting percentage was awful," Glash said. "We wanted to sneak (senior guard Bryce) Foster underneath late but we didn't get it to him down there. Our guards were too impatient.
"There were 12-to-14 times we got to the rim and didn't finish. We've got to be aggressive."
Aggressiveness wasn't a problem on the other end of the court, as a swarming, trapping Miner defense forced Southeastern Oklahoma into 26 turnovers and nearly brought the home team back in the second half.
However that came with a cost, particularly with the NCAA making a major push to have game officials - at all levels of play - enforce rules more tightly this season.
The Storm hit 24 of 35 free throw attempts and two Miner players fouled out.
"The way the game is called these days we've got to play a lot of kids," Glash said. "And in the second half I think our kids came out and played hard.
"The rules are so soft now its awful. This isn't the way guys want to play. People are now coming out to watch free throws."
S&T lost the battle of the boards to the much-larger Storm, who played forwards who were 6-9, 6-8, 6-7 and 6-6 most of the way. The Miners were already without their lone post player, 6-8 freshman Justin Kurash, until around Christmas due to a broken foot. And their problem last night was compounded with the loss of their second-largest player, 6-7 sophomore forward Michael Nesbitt, earlier in the week to a high ankle sprain.
That left 6-5 junior forward Curtis Okafor, who got a rare start, as the team's biggest player. And although Okafor produced a career-high night with 19 points and seven rebounds, it wasn't enough.
S&T was outrebounded 44-36.
Most of the time S&T had four guards on the floor and, on a couple of occasions, played five guards.
Dogged by its shooting issues S&T never held a lead on Wednesday, although the Miners stayed close most of the way.
A layup by 6-8 junior forward Darius Harris at the 3:40 mark capped a 16-3 run and gave the Storm their largest lead of the first half, 33-20.
S&T trailed 42-30 at halftime.
Urald King, a 6-6 senior forward, canned a layup to open the second half and give the Storm a 14-point lead - their largest of the game.
However, the Miner defensive intensity began taking a toll and S&T outscored SE Oklahoma 18-4 over the next 3:14. A three-pointer by freshman guard Danylo Zuikov at the 16:58 mark allowed S&T to tie it up, 48-48.
S&T would never take the lead, though, as the Storm followed with a 9-0 run of their own. King's layup at the 13:35 mark upped the SE Oklahoma edge back to 57-48.
Twice more the Miners cut the deficit to one - when Okafor hit a layup at the 8:52 mark and senior guard Nusrath Khan canned a three-pointer at the 7:38 mark.
With 1:20 remaining Miner freshman guard Aaron Emmanuel canned a pair of free throws to make it a four-point game, 74-70.
S&T would get no closer, as the Storm went 5-of-6 from the foul line in the final 1:11.
Foster backed Okafor with 18 points and added a team-high 11 rebounds before fouling out.
The Storm had five players who scored in double figures, led by 5-9 junior guard Taylor Smaller with 23 points. Harris had 14 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks for the winners.
The Miners conclude a three-game homestand to open the campaign on Saturday, hosting Robert Morris of Springfield, Ill. Saturday. Tip-off at the Gale Bullman Multi-Purpose Building is set for 8 p.m.