A night after giving up a season-best 24 first-half points, the Raiders were better on the defensive end. Three Rivers College allowed just 18 points in the first 20 minutes Friday night in beating Dyersburg State (Tenn.) 84-47 at the Peoples Community Bank Thanksgiving Tournament at the Bess Activity Center. "That to me is kind of exciting to have the guys buying in," Raiders coach Gene Bess said. "It's a gradual process but I like the way they're playing." Ronnie Carson and Sadaeys Miller each had three steals, Kavion Pippen blocked four shots as the Raiders (10-0) forced 20 turnovers and finished plus- 20 on rebounding.
The Eagles (2-6) shot 26.7 percent from the field a night after the Raiders held their opponents to 21.4 percent shooting. For the season, opponents are shooting 33.0 percent, fourth best in the nation heading into Saturday's game against Midland. Three Rivers is also among the top-20 in blocks per game after eight more Friday from five different players. "We've got about three or four guys that can block shots," Bess said. "I feel blessed with that." Three Rivers also had a balanced rebounding effort with four players pulling down six or more. Carson, Terrence Parker and Mamadou Diakhaby each led with seven. The Raiders had 23 secondchance points to just seven by Dyersburg State. A night earlier Three Rivers was just plus-6 under the boards but shot a season-best 60.7 percent from the field in a 107-41 win. The Raiders missed five of their first six shots Friday and trailed 4-3 before Carson came away with a rebound off his own miss and set up a 3 by Reedus, who scored 14 points on 4 of 7 shooting from 3. Three Rivers then forced five straight turnovers to score the next 12 points. The run featured a steal and dunk by Parker, who had 10 points, and a 3 by Gabe Grant, who finished with 12 points, for an 18-4 lead with 13 minutes left in the half. Aiden Saunders led the Raiders in scoring off the bench for a second straight night with 15 points, one of six players to score nine or more. "It was a good team effort," Bess said. "Good for the team too because we had so many kids get a chance to play that haven't had that chance. "We've got four or five freshmen that would get more playing time but they don't guard well. I don't want to play them, just throw them in there and get a lot of playing time until they decide they're going to guard."
The Raiders didn't allow a point for a pair of five minute stretches during the first half and one was interrupted by a goaltending violation. Three Rivers led 36-8 with just over six minutes left in the half and went into the break up 45-18. About the only defensive breakdown the Raiders had were on a few loose balls that the Eagles were able to tie up or recover. "We haven't gotten our share of loose balls," Bess said. "It's going to be a point of emphasis. We need to do more of that, that's a sure fact." State freshman Shamaudre Barber, a Malden native, came off the bench but did not score.