A 27-4 run that covered 10 minutes and bridged the halftime break helped send the Truman men's basketball team to 4-0, as the Bulldogs held off former MIAA rival Northwest Missouri 81-77 on day two of the Comfort Inn/Drury Thanksgiving Classic on Saturday afternoon.
Truman was on the receiving end of a blazing start by the Bearcats (4-4), as NWMSU opened the game by hitting 11 of its first 12 field goals to eventually build a 36-19 lead with 5:32 to play in the first half.
However, the Bulldogs ratcheted up the defensive intensity, forcing the Bearcats into three turnovers and rattling off a 15-2 run in the final five minutes of the half to cut the NWMSU lead to 38-34 at the break.
After Northwest scored on its first possession of the second half to take a 40-34 lead, the Bulldogs pieced together another blast â?? scoring 12 straight behind three Kyle Kanaskie triples and a Cory Myers conventional three-point play to take what was then its biggest lead of the game at 46-40 with 15:20 to play.
Truman maintained a small lead for the next nine minutes before the Bearcats drew even at 61-61 on a lay-up with 5:37 on the clock.
But once again, Truman responded by scoring 18 of the next 24 points to build its largest edge of 77-69 with 31 seconds to play.
A Bearcat late rush would bring the green and white to within two with six seconds on the clock, but Cole Myers sank two free throws to ice the game, sending Truman to a perfect 4-for-4 start to the 2013-14 campaign.
Four Bulldogs scored in double-figures, led by 15 apiece by Kanaskie and Seth Jackson. Reed Mells added 14 points and was one of three Bulldogs with a pair of assists, while Cory Myers added 10 points, two assists and a team-high two steals.
Truman shot 51% from the floor â?? including 60% in the second-half â?? while also hitting 7-of-14 three-pointers.
The Bulldogs also were phenomenal from the stripe, converting 28-of-33 free throw opportunities (84.8%), including 20-of-24 in the second half.
After allowing Northwest to shoot 65% in the first half, the Bulldog defense clamped down and held the Bearcats to just 38% in the second half.
Both teams committed 10 miscues, while the Bearcats held a slight edge (27-24) on the glass.
Truman and tournament-host No. 4 Drury combined to post a 4-0 record for the Great Lakes Valley Conference at the Classic, sending Northwest Missouri (MIAA) and Cameron (Okla.) (Lone Star) both home with 0-2 weekend records.
The Bulldogs kick off GLVC play next Saturday (Dec. 7) with a 7:30 pm tipoff at long-time rival Quincy (Ill.) University. T
he Hawks are 2-4 on the season and play host to Benedictine (Ill.) on Tuesday before welcoming the Bulldogs on Saturday night.
Courtesy Truman State University