UMKC beat UT Rio Grande Valley in the first round of the WAC tournament, but it was a sloppy game. Both teams struggled to make shots from the field and traded the lead 15 times before the final whistle.
The Roos deserve credit for hanging around long enough to win it in overtime, 82-78.
Kyle Steward completed a double-double before fouling out in overtime. He had 19 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks. Early in the game Steward and Dashawn King were the only offensive forces and were the reason the first half score was tied at 38.
“I’m lost for words,” said Steward. “We stuck to it and came out with the win.”
Steward was 11-13 from the charity stripe. The rest of the Roos shot 16-30 from the free-throw line. If it had not been for UTRGV shooting equally bad, UMKC would not have advanced to play New Mexico State Friday at 10:30 p.m. CT.
Sometimes close games can wake up a team. One good thing that may have come from this uneasy win is LaVell Boyd did wake up when the game went to overtime.
Boyd had 2 points in the first half and for most of the game he was in foul trouble. It wasn’t from a lack of effort on his part, but his shots finally started falling after regulation had passed. He scored 12 of his 20 points in overtime, which was also 12 of UMKC’s 15 overtime points.
Coach Kareem Richardson relied heavily on seniors for minutes and points. Five players logged 30 plus minutes for the Roos – all seniors: Boyd, Steward, King (18 points), Broderick Newbill (10 points and 10 rebounds), and Darnell Tillman (11 rebounds). Broderick Robinson, a junior, contributed eight important points and was 2-2 from downtown.
What is the positive take away from this game?
UMKC came as close as a team can to ending their season. That gives tournament perspective. It’s valuable to know how close you are to going home. If the Roos want to keep on playing, they must play better than their first round game.
The Roos have played New Mexico State twice this year and lost both games.
“We are a completely different team from then,” said Steward.
UMKC has reinvented themselves multiple times this year, but have consistently moved towards better basketball.
What kind of team will show up against New Mexico State?
It’s a good enough question to tune in and find out. The second round of the WAC Tournament will be on ESPN 3 at 11:48 p.m. CT.