KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- As finals draw to a close at schools around the MIAA, the men's basketball squads around the conference prepare to get a few more games in before the Christmas holiday.
Half of the conference roster is headed to San Antonio, Texas, for the River City Classic hosted by St. Mary's (Texas) University. The two-day event begins Monday (Dec. 17).
All three of the MIAA's nationally-ranked squads will be in the Alamo City. No. 13 Northwest Missouri State (5-1, 0-0 MIAA) has the first game for both days of the classic -- 10:30 a.m., CST -- facing Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) on day one and No. 21 Central Oklahoma on Tuesday (Dec. 18).
Before making their way south, the Bearcats get a second chance at No. 12 Nebraska-Omaha Friday night (Dec. 14). Northwest had its season-opening win streak snapped by the Mavericks in Maryville, 80-66, on Dec. 1 -- the last time the Bearcats saw game action.
The 17th-ranked Pittsburg State Gorillas (6-0, 0-0 MIAA) get back to action following a 19-day break by playing the host Rattlers to finish Monday's schedule, followed by Angelo (Texas) State the next afternoon. Both are South Central Region foes.
PSU has not played since a 78-76 win at Newman (Kan.) Nov. 28.
No. 18 Emporia State (5-2, 0-0 MIAA) will be aiming to snap a two-game skid entering play at the River City Classic. The Hornets get Angelo State on day one, and take on Ouachita Baptist the next afternoon.
ESU will stay in Texas a while longer -- heading to Wichita Falls to face Midwestern (Texas) State the following Thursday (Dec. 20). The Hornets defeated the Mustangs, 85-83, in Emporia on Nov. 24.
The Washburn Ichabods (6-1, 0-0 MIAA) are bringing a six game win streak to the Lone Star State. WU will take on in-region opponents Southeastern Oklahoma State and St. Mary's in the tournament.
Missouri Western (5-1, 0-0 MIAA), idle since Dec. 4 thanks to the recent ice storm forcing postponement of their matchup with Rockhurst (Mo.) last Monday (Dec. 10), also will be in San Antonio.
The Griffons will face No. 21 Central Oklahoma and Southeastern Oklahoma State.
The Central Missouri Mules host their High Desert Classic in Las Vegas, Nev., with the two-day affair starting Tuesday.
UCM opens play with Montevallo (Ala.) -- the school it eliminated in the quarterfinals of the 2007 NCAA Division II Elite Eight, then faces Rollins (Fla.) on Wednesday (Dec. 19).
Fresh from snapping a six-game losing skid which dated back to last season, the Truman Bulldogs (1-5, 0-0 MIAA) will head across the Mississippi River to play in the Quincy (Ill.) Pepsi Classic starting Saturday (Dec. 15).
They'll face the host Hawks to open the tourney, then get a tough test against No. 3 South Dakota the next day.
Truman then heads to Southern Illinois-Edwardsville Wednesday to wrap up its pre-Christmas slate.
The other three schools are staying close to home in the days before the holiday break. Missouri Southern (6-2, 0-0 MIAA) has a trip to Wichita to face Newman Monday.
Fort Hays State (5-1, 0-0 MIAA) hosts Kansas Wesleyan on Friday and then gets a big test when 10th-ranked Southwestern Oklahoma State visits Gross Memorial Coliseum Dec. 20.
The Tigers are riding a five-game win streak since opening the season with a 73-65 road loss to the Savage Storm of SWOSU on Nov. 17.
Southwest Baptist (5-2, 0-0 MIAA) hosts Evangel (Mo.) on Tuesday before the Boll Weevils of Arkansas-Monticello invade the Meyer Sports Center Dec. 20.
The Bearcats are 5-0 at home this season, and have a three-game winning streak going into the game against the Crusaders.
WEATHER AFFECTS TWO GAMES: The ice storm which came through the Midwest caused just two men's games on the MIAA schedule to be affected.
The game with Fort Hays State hosting Newman (Kan.) was postponed Saturday (Dec. 8). It has been rescheduled for Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.
The Missouri Western Griffons delayed their Monday (Dec. 10) home game with Rockhurst (Mo.) until Jan. 14. Tipoff will be at 7 p.m. in the Looney Complex.
HORNETS ENDURE ROUGH WEEK: The Emporia State Hornets went through a rough stretch after moving up to No. 7 in the national ranking last week.
ESU lost its leading scorer, senior G/F Wes Book, in the first half of its home matchup against Newman (Kan.) Dec. 5.
An 8-0 run late in the second half put Newman up by seven, 74-67. Seven of the points were on free throws following technical fouls -- including two Ts which sent head coach David Moe to the locker room.
Moe would be suspended by ESU director of athletics Kent Weiser for one game following his ejection and his actions afterward.
ESU would rally -- out-scoring the Jets, 12-5, over the last 54 seconds to force overtime. The Hornets grabbed a three-point lead early in OT, but another 8-0 outburst by the Jets put Newman in the drivers seat.
Senior G DeAndre Townsend had 24 points, while senior F Caleb Tegtmeier added 23 -- he was 4-of-6 from the three-point arc.
With assistant coach Ben McCollum at the helm, ESU went on the road to face No. 22 Nebraska-Omaha Saturday (Dec. 8). The Hornets led by nine with 6:15 left in the first half, but the Mavericks finished with a 22-5 run to get a 50-42 halftime lead.
The lead was as large as 22 points in the second half, as ESU eventually fell to UNO, 105-91.
Townsend scored 39 for the Hornets -- 21 in the second half. Nebraska-Omaha shot 57 percent from the field for the game, including 61.5 percent in the second half -- the Mavericks also were 30-of-40 (75 percent) at the charity stripe.
MULES DROP FIRST GAME TO ROCKHURST: The 18th-ranked Central Missouri Mules saw their season-opening win streak end at five games with an 83-75 loss at Rockhurst (Mo.) Saturday (Dec. 8).
The Mules only lead was at 3-2 in the first minute of the game, as the Hawks embarked on an 18-5 run to grab a 10-point, 20-8 advantage.
UCM whittled the deficit to four on a three by senior G Fred Dudley with 2:23 left in the first half, but RU scored five of the last seven points for a 40-33 halftime lead.
Rockhurst regained a 12-point cushion, 49-37, in the first five minutes of the second half. The Mules again worked back into the game -- getting the spread down to two points, 62-60, with 4:31 left. They would get no closer.
Junior G Joe Young had 18 points for UCM, while senior F Kevin Wollbrinck added 15 (going 11-of-12 at the foul line) and junior F Skip Thomas chipping in 14. The Mules made just 34 percent (23-of-66) from the floor. Wollbrinck also led Central Missouri with nine rebounds.
Rockhurst was good on 53 percent of its tries from the field (25-of-47) and was 29-of-33 (87.9 percent) from the charity stripe.
TIP-INS: Northwest Missouri State head coach Steve Tappmeyer needs two wins to draw even with Truman's Boyd King (1946-71 -- 379) for third on the MIAA's career coaching wins list... SouthwestBaptist sophomore C Matthew Rogers was three blocked shots from a triple-double against Quincy Saturday (Dec. 8), scoring 20 points with 15 rebounds and seven swats -- he also added five assists... Junior F James Williams led five Washburn Ichabods in double-figures with 16 points in WU's 97-57 win over Baker Wednesday (Dec. 12)... Missouri Western junior G Lonnel Johnson scored a career-high 20 points with six assists and four steals in the Griffons' 75-67 win over Quincy (Ill.) Dec. 4.
MIAA Men's Basketball Player of the Week
For the week of action ending Dec. 9
DeAndre Townsend, G
Emporia State University
Townsend, a 5-foot-8, 155-pound senior from Minneapolis, Minn., averaged 31.5 points, 4.5 assists and 2.0 steals in two losses for the No. 7 Hornets last week.
As point guard, he had a career-high 39 points in ESU's 105-91 road loss to No. 22 Nebraska-Omaha Saturday night (Dec. 8), as ESU played without leading scorer Wes Book due to injury.
Townsend made a career-best six three-pointers on 11 shots, and was 12-of-21 from the field overall while sinking 9-of-10 at the foul line. He added five assists and a steal.
In a 93-89 overtime home setback against Newman (Kan.) Wednesday night (Dec. 5), Townsend scored 24 points with four assists and three steals before missing the extra session due to injury.
Townsend is a graduate of Minneapolis North High School, and transferred to ESU from Rainy River (Minn.) Community College.
Others nominated: Lonnel Johnson, G, MWSU; Matt Rogers, C, SBU; James Williams, G, WU.
Previous winners: 11/19 -- Reggie Bunch, F, MWSU; 11/26 -- Hunter Henry, F, NWMSU; 12/3 -- Jim Grabowski, F, SBU.