JOPLIN, Mo. - The struggles continue for the Miami boys.
An 8-1 run down the stretch allowed the Joplin (Mo.) Eagles to nail down a 57-50 victory over the Wardogs in the final game of the Freeman Classic.
“I am really frustrated with the way we played on both ends of the floor, especially on the defensive end,” Miami coach Rusty Mercer said. “We contained the basketball all year. We put bodies on people and rebounded. I thought we were very deficient with that. We never had any continuity offensively. We just basically had to jump up and make shots at times.
“Joplin totally outplayed us.”
Miami trailed only 20-18 at the half, but Michael Anderson accounted for 15 of the 18. James Pickens had the other three points on a first-quarter 3-point goal.
Anderson had just one field goal the rest of the while Pickens tossed in a career-best 15. He got 12 of that in the fourth quarter.
The loss was the third straight for the Wardogs, who slipped to 3-3 on the season. They hope to right the ship Tuesday night when they entertain Vinita in the Verdigris Valley Conference opener.
“Give Joplin credit - they hit some big shots,” Mercer said.
The biggest of those shots was a 3-point goal by Matt McCreary with 57.6 seconds remaining.
That broke a 49-49 tie and sent the Eagles on an 8-1 run down the stretch.
“The fourth quarter was our best of the season,” Joplin coach Tim Spiers said. “We hit free throws, made defensive stops and we got huge baskets from several different players.”
Joplin carried a 34-32 lead into the final stanza, but a bucket from inside by James Pickens tied the game at 34.
The game later would be tied at 42, 47 and finally at 49 on a layup by Jake Roberts off a pass from Pickens.
But McCreary's bomb from the right elbow was followed by a baseline drive from Jevon Hackett.
Miami's final point of the game came on a free throw by Michael Chesnut with 18.9 seconds to go.
Scott Williams drained three of four free throw chances in the final 17.8 seconds to give the Eagles their seven-point margin of victory.
“Sitting there 49-49, we had a chance to get one stop and possibly take the lead, but at that point, we really didn't deserve to win the basketball game,” Mercer said. “Joplin outplayed us in all facets.”
Once again, the Wardogs relied on the 3-point shot for a lot of their offense. They nailed eight in the game - three each by Pickens and Anderson and Roberts drained two.
McCreary scored 16 for the Eagles, who also got 12 from Matt Harrison and 10 from Williams.
Miami 12 6 14 18 - 50
Joplin, Mo. 13 7 14 23 - 57
Miami - Anderson 17, Pickens 15, Roberts 8, Turner 7, Chesnut 3.
Joplin - McCreary 16, Harrison 12, Williams 10, Hackett 8, Taylor 6, Menke 3, Davis 2.
3-point goals - Anderson 3, Pickens 3, Roberts 2, McCreary 4, Taylor 1, Williams 1.