WEST PLAINS, Mo. - Led by their hard-working Mule, the Raiders dominated the boards and prevented a repeat of two weeks ago.
Three Rivers had more than twice as many rebounds as MSU-West Plains in the first half and finished with 22 more than the Grizzlies to win 106-88 on Monday in West Plains.
Poplar Bluff alum Dominique Hardimon, who did not play in the first matchup due to an injury, got his first double-double of the season with 14 points and a season-high 15 rebounds.
"Man, he was good. He was a difference-maker," Three Rivers coach Brian Bess said.
A slow start cost the Raiders (8-4, 2-3 Region XVI) when they hosted the Grizzlies on Feb. 13, and Three Rivers ultimately lost by 10 while finishing plus-3 on rebounds. This time, Three Rivers kept MSU-West Plains scoreless for the first 2 1/2 minutes and led throughout the second half.
Three Rivers shot 53.3% overall and 61% in the second half while MSU-West Plains shot 37.5% overall and 32.4% on 3s.
"When the shots go in, we're pretty good," Bess said.
MSU-West Plains made up some ground by shooting 20 more free throws in the second half than the Raiders.
James Williams led the Grizzlies with 21 points as MSU-West Plains had five players in double figures. Jesse Zarzuela, who had 26 points on Feb. 13, had four points in the second half and 15 total.
"We keyed in on them better," Bess said. "We knew Zarzuela could score, and to hold him to 15, we were really proud of them."
Despite grabbing 31 rebounds to the Grizzlies' 15 in the first half, Three Rivers led 44-40 at the break. The Raiders hit back-to-back 3s to open the second half to take the first double-digit lead.
Inside the 10-minute mark, Jones scored to put the Raiders ahead by 20, but the Grizzlies (7-4, 2-2) countered with eight points in a minute.
MSU-West Plains got within 10 points when Williams drove and drew a 10th team foul against the Raiders and a third on Hardimon with 6 minutes remaining. At the time, the Grizzlies had committed three fouls. Hardimon returned the favor and drew a shooting foul in the following possession.
With under 5 minutes left, Jones rebuilt the Raider lead to 16 points with a 3, and the Grizzlies didn't get within 10 points again.
"We thought we had a size advantage. For the last six minutes, we went small to match up with them better," Bess said.
Three Rivers next hosts Moberly at 7 p.m. Wednesday and will be at State Fair on Saturday.
"We made a heck of a run at them up there, and we never did guard them," Bess said of Moberly. "Wednesday night is a doubleheader you don't want to miss."
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic