The men’s basketball team opened the season against the Drake Bulldogs Tuesday night. The Roos were ready to kick off the season with a win.
The first three minutes of the game neither team made a basket. Drake took the lead on free-throws, but the Roos quickly responded during the 6-9 run.
The game was tied up by UMKC senior Martez Harrison, who scored two back-to-back jump shots which also yielded the lead, 11-9. Soon after, the points came flooding in. Senior, LaVell Boyd knocked down two shots from beyond the arc. Drake was able to accumulate free-throws and opportunities near the paint, but could not match the Roos energy.
“I thought our guys really defended well tonight,” said Coach Kareem Richardson. “I thought that set the tone for the entire night for us.”
With a 21-15 lead, the Roos continued their good defense. The Bulldogs remained scoreless, close to four minutes left in the half. Drake began a full-court press and double teamed Harrison near half court. He was quick on his feet and found teammate, Broderick Robinson, who followed up with a three point field goal.
The Bulldogs scored a buzz beater at the end of the half, placing the score at 37-26.
Beginning the second half, Drake was shooting 80 percent from the field versus UMKC, who was shooting 75 percent. Nonetheless, the Roos were shooting 50 percent behind the three point line. The Bulldogs only knocked down one three-pointer in the second half.
With 11 minutes left in the game, the Roos passing became shaky. The Bulldogs intercepted two back-to-back passes and scored to get within seven points.
A few minutes later Drake was within four and had an opportunity to get within two. The Bulldogs layup attempt was stopped when senior Kyle Steward came from behind for the block. The fans rose to their feet and began cheering wildly.
“Our defense kept us in it,” said Harrison. “We knew our offense was going to get going after we continued to play defense.”
With fans encouragement, the Roos continued the attack. Harrison was able to put up a one-handed layup, and further distance the score. The Bulldogs response was another full-court press. The Roos were able to get across court. Harrison passed to a teammate near three point arc but the shot didn’t fall. It would have tied him with the UMKC assist record. Steward quickly got the rebound and scored the put-back.
Broderick Robinson found Steward with 39 seconds left for an explosive dunk — icing on the cake. With the score out of reach at 65-58, Drake was forced to foul to slow down the clock.
UMKC finished strong, winning the game 68-62.
In total, Harrison scored 22 points and had three assists on the night. His career assists is at 376. Two more assists and he breaks Quinton Day’s record. Both Harrison and Day are Kansas City home grown talent.
“I know [my team is] going to help me surpass this record, and I’m just glad I have this group of guys to share this with,” said Harrison.
Boyd scored the team’s second highest points with 18 and Steward had 13.
The Roos will head to Bowling Green, Ohio for the Bill Frack Tournament, from Nov. 19-21. All their games will be at 3 p.m. The games will be available on ESPN3.