Missouri State head coach Dana Ford was quick to put the blame on himself after the Bears were stunned in their season opener 99-94 by Southeast Missouri State.
“I did not do my job today,” Ford said after the game. “I’ve got to get these guys doing a better job.”
After coming in as heavy favorites, MSU was never able to settle into a rhythm and failed to win a home game while scoring 94 points.
Even with the Bears giving up 99 points, Ford said he thinks the problem was on the offensive end.
“We did not play smart, team offensive basketball — for whatever reason,” Ford said. “Pretty uncharacteristic of our team, with the way they’ve practiced and the way we’ve scrimmaged.”
SEMO jumped out to an 11-6 lead, then the Bears caught up to tie it 20-20 at the 11:44 mark of the first half.
The Redhawks slowly built a lead while MSU was unable to get a stop. SEMO took a 45-41 lead at halftime. Junior swing-man Donovan Clay led the Bears with 13 points in the half.
Missouri State seized the lead in the second half after a bucket by senior forward Gaige Prim in the lane to make it 55-54. The teams traded points and the Redhawks held a slim 65-64 lead at the under-12 media timeout.
Neither squad built a significant lead until SEMO got a 88-80 lead with a little over four minutes left in the game.
Missouri State would get as close as 96-94, but a late SEMO three-pointer put the game out of reach and the Bears were upset 99-94.
Ford mentioned several things he wants to change about the team — three-point shooting included. The Bears went 7-26 from behind the arc, but it was more than that.
“We do not like (the shots) where we come down the floor, don’t reverse the ball and shoot a three,” Ford said. “We don’t like those. We can lay it in almost every time. So there’s a lot that I’m going to go back and watch and not like today. I’m not a big fan of how many threes we took tonight, and I’m not a fan of the individuals that took them. I’ve got to rein things in a lot better than what I have been.”
Ford also mentioned the team needs to be able to guard players better than they did tonight.
“I’ve been around a lot of good coaches, and there’s one that would tell me all the time ‘if you can’t guard the ball, nothing else matters,’” Ford said. “And we can’t guard the ball. We got driven time after time, and then you’ve got to guard it without fouling. We got a lot of work to do. And it starts with me.”
Prim, who finished the night with 28 points and 15 rebounds, also tried to take some of the blame for defensive issues, saying the team’s defensive communication was poor.
“A lot of defense is talking and making sure everyone is talking,” Prim said. “And we just didn’t have enough talk tonight. I put that on me. I’m the leader of the team and I’ve got to make sure these guys are doing that.”
The Bears have a quick turnaround, they play next at home against Alabama State on Saturday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m.
Follow Stephen Terrill on Twitter, @stevethe2nd
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