Noah Fleischman, Sports Editor
The Rams’ defense stood tall as men’s basketball knocked off Missouri State on Sunday night 61-51 at the Siegel Center.
In addition to the defensive play, senior guard Mike’L Simms logged a team-high 11 points for the Rams. Senior guard De’Riante Jenkins added 10 points, and sophomore guard KeShawn Curry logged 9.
Here are the top three observations from the win:
Havoc forced 26 turnovers
The defense stole the show in the contest as the Rams forced 26 turnovers, the third time the black and gold have caused 25 or more this season.
In the first half, the Rams forced 16 Bears turnovers, despite shooting 33% from the field themselves.
Redshirt-senior forward Issac Vann said the team builds confidence off forcing turnovers, especially when they are not shooting the ball well.
“Defense is what we hang our hat on,” Vann said. “Even if the ball isn’t going in on the offensive end, the main focus is sitting down and getting stops on defense.”
The Rams forced 16 first-half turnovers and finished the night forcing 26. The black and gold focused their defensive efforts and trapping on Missouri State’s Tyrik Dixon.
“We knew that their starting point guard tried to break the press by himself a lot,” Vann said. “Just trying to speed him up, make him make tough passes — and we turned them over a lot.”
Dixon turned over the ball four times on the night. Tulio Da Silva led the Bears in turnovers with six.
The black and gold logged 16 steals on the night, as Vann recorded a team-high four steals. Sophomore forward Vince Williams and Jenkins added three steals each.
Freshman guard Tre Clark made an impact on the floor when he played the final six minutes of the first half in relief of Evans.
In his first college field goal attempt, Clark unloaded a 3-pointer from the corner and converted.
“I think that’s huge for him playing behind Deuce [Marcus Evans] and Bones [Hyland],” Vann said. “It just shows that he stays ready for him to step up and there’s no fall off. That shows a lot of him.”
Clark added an assist at the end of the first half as he found an open sophomore forward Vince Williams, who knocked down a three to end the half.
Sunday night’s game marked Clark’s third appearance this season for the Rams.
“He’s a good player, but he’s also a freshman,” Rhoades said. “As I like to say, freshman point guards — and I was one — you don’t really know what you don’t know. You just got to keep at it.”
Senior guard Malik Crowfield was absent from Sunday night’s game against Missouri State with a broken bone in his wrist, Rhoades said after the game.
Crowfield injured the wrist in practice earlier this week, and the timetable for his return is uncertain.
“I don’t think it’s going to be really long, but it’s not going to be next week,” Rhoades said.
“He went in for a layup, got bumped in practice and just [awkwardly] came down on his right hand.”
Crowfield, who wore a sling on his right arm on the bench, appeared in all nine games for the Rams prior to Sunday night’s win.
The injury forced Crowfield to miss his first game in his four-year career while wearing the black and gold. The LaPlace, Louisiana, native averaged a career-high 16.8 minutes for the Rams this season.
Crowfield is 10-for-20 from beyond the arc this season, including a 3-for-3 night from three in his last time out Dec. 7 against Old Dominion.
The Rams hit the road to play Charleston on Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Charleston, South Carolina.
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