Looking to potentially clinch the second seed in the WAC tournament, the Roos helped themselves in a big way Saturday night in their final home game of the year, dismantling the Chicago State Cougars, 80-58.
“I thought we put the ball inside where it needed to go against their switching defenses,” said Head Coach Billy Donlon. “In the first half, I thought we took threes when there were better shots to be taken. In the second half, we put the ball where it needed to be, and it kept the lead where it was so that Chicago State couldn’t make a run. When you force 19 turnovers on defense, you’re playing hard. Our team is at its best when we score in the paint.”
The game was close in the first half, with the Cougars leading by five with 11 minutes to go. Chicago State wouldn’t lead after that point, however, as the Roos went on a 31-14 scoring run that started with a three from senior guard Rob Whitfield. Junior guard Marvin Nesbitt ended the first half with a layup and an emphatic put-back dunk that made the crowd erupt. The Roos led 43-31 at the half.
“What’s different about this season has been the defensive play being on display,” said senior forward Jordan Giles. “It is also a more bought-in team than in past seasons, and we pay more attention to minor details.”
Kansas City got hot in the second half, shooting 12-19 inside the paint and forcing six turnovers. The Roos’ lead in the half was never smaller than 12 and got up to as much as 25 with seven minutes left. Senior forward Javan White led the team in scoring with 16 points. Junior guard Brandon McKissic scored 13 points, and Whitfield added 11 points.
“I love contributing, and I want to do everything I can to make sure we win because that is what I am all about at this point in the season,” said McKissic.
The Roos will play their last two games on the road against Utah Valley and Seattle U on March 5 and 7, respectively.