by Ed Beach
The Drury Panthers, with strong team defense and behind the backcourt shooting of juniors Conley Garrison and Cal Hartley, handed the Truman State Bulldogs a decisive 71-52 setback Thursday night at the O’Reilly Family Event Center.
Garrison poured in a game-high 24 and Hartley chipped in 15 as the Panthers won for the seventh straight time and improved to 18-7 on the season and 11-6 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference. Garrison was 9 of 17 from the floor, including 5 of 10 from three-point range, while Hartley hit on 5 of 10 from the field.
“They need to score buckets for us, and others need to get them open, and if they cheat on them, they need to get to daylight and finish plays,” said Drury head coach Steve Hesser.
The Panthers raced to a 14-point lead at 22-8 midway through the first half, before the Bulldogs trimmed the lead to four at 26-22. But Drury outscored the visitors 13-0 over the final three minutes of the half to earn a 39-22 advantage at intermission. The Panthers then opened the second half on a 21-7 run to move in front by 31, before the Bulldogs cut into the margin in the late going.
The Panthers forced Truman State into 23 turnovers and outshot the visitors for the game, getting 22 more attempts, finishing 29 of 68 for 43 percent.
Truman State (17-8, 13-4) hit on 19 of 46 for 41 percent. Alex McQuinn paced the Bulldog scoring with 14 points.
“The turnovers were key, then sixteen offensive boards, and we got twenty-two more shots than they did,” added Hesser. “They’re the number one team in the league on offense and the number one team defensively, so you gotta have multiple actions against them.”
The Panthers outrebounded the Bulldogs 37-32, with senior reserve Sam Marshall leading the way with eight.
The Panthers will play away from home for the final time in the regular season, Saturday, February 22nd, in a 3 pm Great Lakes Valley Conference meeting at Quincy.