In a game obliterated by turnovers and missed opportunities, the Rangers dropped their opening conference game tonight, 73-62.
The UW-Parkside Rangers (3-4) opened up play within the Great Lake Valley Conference at home against the Rockhurst University Hawks (4-3). The Rangers came out strong, and were able to walk into halftime with a 36-30 lead.
“I think a veteran team probably puts them away, and puts them away in the first half” said head coach Luke Reigel. “There were three or four opportunities where we could have been up twelve or fifteen, and we just let them hang around.”
In the first half, the Rangers’ charge was lead by freshman Jeremy Saffold, who went 5-8 from the field, and 5-5 from the line. The freshman forward from Hazel Crest, IL also had the play of the game. Safford caused a loose ball as Rockhurst was walking into their offensive zone, and scrambled down the court side by side with a Rockhurst guard hanging over him. He pulled the lay up and hit the deck upon making the shot, getting the foul in the process. Saffold’s sixteen-point first half performance was backed up by sophomore Grant Johnson’s nine point, four assists, and two steals effort in the first half.
Grant Johnson spent the majority of the game covering last year’s GLVC Player of the Year award winner, Rockhurst’s senior guard Aaron Hill. Hill came in averaging 19.8 per game, and, in the first half, was limited to only six shots.
Where this whole game went wrong for Parkside was in the second half. Both teams came out as hollow shells of the teams playing in the first, collectively scoring zero points in the opening three minutes of the second half.
“It was 36-36 for I don’t know how long, said Reigel. “If we’re playing even decent to start the second half we’re up twelve. It wasn’t like they just came out and blew our doors off.”
There were countless turnovers, as well as poorly taken shots. The Rangers were struggling to get a clean shot, and seemed to battle the shot clock during that stretch just as much as they were the pressuring Hawks. Awoken at some point during the second half’s disastrous play, was Rockhurst’s Aaron Hill, who would go on to lead the Hawks in scoring with a twenty point performance in the game.
The six-point Ranger lead would soon be evened, and from that point Rockhurst ran away with it. The Rangers’ collection of turnovers and missed shots would lead to a nine point deficit late, and they could never get going. The Rangers would turn the ball over seventeen times in this game, allowing for nineteen points directly off the turnovers.
A point of controversy also came when a Parkside timeout was called. The controversy is that nobody from Parkside ever called for a time out.
“Our guys said that there was a loose ball. We grabbed it, and from Rockhurst’s bench somebody yelled timeout,” explained Reigel. “The officials thought we yelled it.”
Reigel went on to add, “That mystery timeout at the beginning of the second half really hurt us, because we needed it to stop the run.”
The Hawks simply took it from there. It was still a sloppy game, but the Hawks managed the pace of the game from the fifteen-minute mark of the second half all the way to the final buzzer, overcoming a one time ten point deficit.
All in all, this game turned out to be sloppier than it proved to be any kind of a shootout. The second half saw a collective shooting average of 30.7 percent from both teams, who also amounted for twenty-seven turnovers combined tonight.
“I think we made more mental mistakes tonight then we have all year,” said Reigel. “Then what happened was they got a little energy and a little excited, and we never settled down.”
The UW-Parkside Men’s Basketball team next plays against the University of Missouri St. Louis (6-0) in another in conference match-up. The Rangers will look to give the Tritons of Missouri St. Louis their first loss of the season this Saturday at 3:00pm at DeSimone Gymnasium.
“I think a veteran team probably comes away on the right end of it,” said Reigel. “We got to make sure we bounce back here, and learn from it.”