WEST PLAINS, Mo. - Despite a sluggish first half, Northeastern A&M's Golden Norsemen cruised to a 93-44 victory over the MidAmerica University JV Thursday in the opening round of the Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Classic.

Playing before a sparse crowd in the West Plains Civic Center, coach Dustin Grover's Golden Norse increased their record to 3-0 on the season. The MidAmerica Pioneers of Olathe, Kan., slip to 0-1 on the year.

The Golden Norse square off against the Independence (Kan.) Community College Pirates at 5 p.m. today in the second round of the three-day classic. Independence (1-1) faced host MSU-West Plains (2-0) late Thursday in the opening round.

NEO concludes the classic with a 7 p.m. confrontation with the MSU-West Plains Grizzlies on Saturday.

“We just weren't in the game the entire first half,” Grover said. “We knew we were better than they were, so we played down to their level.”

Sophomore guard Dominique Gaines and freshmen guard Lionel Green both combined for 10 points each, respectively as the Golden Norsemen constructed a 43-20 halftime lead.

Cicero Gonzaga contributed seven points while Tulio Cobos chipped in with five as NEO took advantage of numerous mistakes by the outmanned Pioneers.

“We got better in the second half,” Grover said. “That is a good sign because usually you don't recover against a team that is physically inferior to your team.”

Although slowed by an slight ankle sprain, Kenneth Clayton entered the game and scored nine points in the first 10 minutes of the second half.

Freshmen Sam Brown and Jaren English scored six points each to fuel the Norse onslaught.

Gaines and Green each scored 17 points as 12 Golden Norsemen put points on the board. Gonzaga added 13 along with 10 points by Cobos.

Sophomore point-guard Mark Ball led the Pioneers in scoring with 13 points while Conner Keyeski contributed 11.

Northeastern A&M 93, MidAmerica JV 44

Northeastern A&M - Gaines 7 2-3 17, Green 6 0-0 17, Gonzaga 5 1-2 13, Cobos 5 0-2 10, Clayton 4 0-2 9, Brown 2 2-2 7, English 3 0-0 6, Mathis 1 2-2 4, Armwood 1 0-0 3, Sherritt 1 1-4 3, Davis 0 2-2 2, Leduff 0 2-2 2. Totals 35 12-24 93.

MidAmerica JV - Ball 3 7-10 13, Keyeski 4 2-7 11, Karr 2 1-3 7, Sharp 3 0-0 6, Holl 2 0-2 4, Howard 1 1-2 3. Totals 15 11-24 44.

Halftime - NEO 43, MidAmerica JV 20. 3-po