First place in the Great Lakes Valley Conference West Division was on the line Thursday night when the Drury Panthers hosted Truman State at the O’Reilly Family Event Center, and when the dust settled, it was the Panthers that emerged at the top of the division following an 88-71 win.
The Panthers controlled the early scoring pace, moving in front by as many as 12 points in the first half before the Bulldogs chipped away to trail just 45-38 at halftime after hitting on 8 of 18 first-half three-point attempts.
“I think we did some really nice things at times,” said Drury head coach Steve Hesser. “But give them credit, we did some things that at times weren’t so good, but I think we responded well after some of those.”
The Bulldogs trailed again by 12 points early in the second half but pulled within eight, 62-54, moments later. A 16-4 run by the Panthers midway through the half pushed the lead to 20, 78-58, and Drury withstood a late Truman State rally to claim the win.
“Their (Truman State’s) stuff is extremely hard to guard; they don’t play with a traditional big guy, and that puts a lot of pressure on our guys that aren’t used to guarding outside the line,” added Hesser.
Juniors Andrew Ballock and Douglas Moore paced the Drury scoring with 16 and 15 respectively, while freshman Cam Potts added 13. Sophomore Isaac Johnson hit for 11 points, and freshman Conley Garrison added 10.
Jake Velkey led the Truman State scoring with 20 points on 6 of 12 shooting from three-point range. The Bulldogs were 14 of 36 from long range in the game while Drury was a strong 10 of 18 from beyond the arc.
Drury (15-4, 8-3 in the GLVC) outrebounded the Bulldogs 43-31, with Moore grabbing a team-high nine.
The Panthers hit on 30 of 56 of their shots from the field shooting 54%, while Truman State (12-8, 7-4 in the GLVC) was 25 of 67 for 37%.
Up next, the Panthers are at Missouri S & T on February 3rd in the first game of a three-game road trip. Game time on Saturday is at 7:30 p.m. in Rolla, Missouri.