Coming into this weekend the men's basketball team was looking to start off this season's conference play with a bang against Columbia State on Friday and Saturday against Jackson state. Things did not go the Pioneers way, despite a few awe-inspiring individual performances.
The Columbia State game was intense for the entire 40 minutes. However, Columbia's best efforts could not contain George Stanberry and Kevin Rimmer. Both played extremely efficient with Rimmer scoring 28 on 10-11 shooting from the field and 2-2 from 3 and Stanberry scored an incredible 47 points, going 9-14 from 3 and 16-22 from the field as well as knocking in each of his 6 free throws. The team also had contributions from Chase Hawkins, Bryan Dean, Aspen Bush, and Rasean Taylor in the scoring column. The Pioneers stayed in striking distance due to the great performances by Stanberry and Rimmer but sadly, these efforts were not enough as Columbia State won the game in a shootout 127 to 109.
The very next day the Pioneers headed down to Jackson State. In this matchup, Bryan Dean led the team with 17 points with George Stanberry and Kevin Rimmer coming up with 10 and 11 points respectively. Alex Shaw scored 9 points but missed two one and one opportunities with the Pioneers in the lead late in the game. Ultimately the lead didn't hold up as a Jackson state player drove in for bucket giving them a 1-point lead with 5 seconds left. The Pioneers attempted a buzzer beater which clanked off the rim as time expired. The final score, 63-62. A lack of free throw attempts and ability to convert on the charity stripe seemed to have been a key reason for the loss. The Pioneers shot 9 free throws while only making 55% as Jackson state shot 82% on 22 attempts.
The team is optimistic moving forward despite their 0-2 record in conference play. Hopefully, this Saturday they can right the ship in their Homecoming matchup against Motlow State.