The Raiders came back from being 17 points down in the first half against a top-10 team, but they didn't come all the way back. Three Rivers College lost 77-74 to Moberly Area College on Saturday at the Bess Activity Center. With the loss, Moberly Area (20-2, 3-1 Region XVI) has swept Three Rivers (16-7, 2-3) in the regular season for the first time since the 2013-14 season, when the Raiders went 16-13 overall.
Ronnie Carson had a big second half for the Raiders with 11 points to finish with 14 overall. The point guard hit a 3 to get the Raiders back within five points early in the half. "Ronnie guarded well and hit some big shots. It is about time that he gets going," Three Rivers coach Gene Bess said. "This is what we've been expecting out of him." After Moberly Area went on a seven point run to go ahead by nine, it was Carson who hit a 3 to stop the run. He followed that with a drive where he squeezed between two Greyhounds for an off-balance layup to cut the lead back to four. It was his free throw with 37 seconds remaining that got the Raiders within one possession for the first time since the 13-minute mark.
After failing to get a turnover in the backcourt late, Three Rivers put Quartarrius Wilson on the foul line. He missed both and Gabe Grant got the rebound. He gave it to Carson, who dribbled up the floor, passed it back, and Grant missed a long 3 as time expired. "We were showing some signs after digging ourselves a hole," Bess said. "The second half, we came out and started to look like a Raider basketball team." Carson also had four assists and two rebounds. He was 5 for 7 shooting over 29 minutes.
"We still lost but I want everybody to know we're going to keep fighting," Carson said. "I've got to bring that every game now." Grant led Three Rivers in scoring with 18 points and also had five rebounds. He shot 33 percent from the floor, and was 6 for 8 on free throws. The Raiders grabbed just 26 rebounds, their fewest in any game this season. Grant had the most of any Raider with five. Three Rivers had five offensive rebounds, three fewer than the Greyhounds, and were minus-4 in second-chance points. Kavion Pippen gave the post a little boost off the bench. Pippen played in his first game of 2017 on Saturday. The sophomore forward has been out since Dec. 30, six games including four Region XVI games, with an injury. He came off the bench and had five points and two rebounds over 13 minutes. He was 2 for 2 shooting.
"He's got great upside," Bess said. Pippen had started every game of the season before his injury and is currently averaging 11.1 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. The Three Rivers coaches often rotated him and fellow big man Terrence Parker back and forth, and always had a presence in the paint in doing so. "I'm counting on them coming into their own down late," Bess said. "We really need an inside game." After some back-andforth play early, Moberly Area hit a pair of 3s and was up by double digits midway through the first half. The Greyhounds pushed the lead to as much as 17 before the Raiders made a late comeback.
"I really felt like we were going to come out here and bust it and get going early," Bess said. "It just took us too long to get going." Jeffery Porter sank a 3 with under 2 minutes to go that cut the lead to 10 points, and Aidan Saunders followed with a layup off a steal. With 25 seconds left in the half, Saunders buried a 3 that brought the Raiders within seven. Moberly Area, with one late push, was able to build the lead back up to 11 points at halftime. Despite Carson's strong second half, the lead largely sat in the 5-10 point range until his free throw cut it to three points with 37 seconds to go.