Story by Eric Short
Photos by Peter Marek
Missouri forward, Laurence Bowers passes off over an SIUE defender.
Missouri’s 2012 regular season started out a little funky.
Despite a lackadaisical first half for the No. 15 Tigers against SIU-Edwardsville on Saturday night, Missouri recovered in time to secure an 83-69 victory.
Missouri big man Laurence Bowers was perhaps the biggest factor in overcoming the slow start, which led by only six points as a team heading into halftime.
After only scoring two points in the first half, the 6-foot-8 senior exploded in the second, scoring 18 points. Fourteen of Bowers’ points came during the Tigers’ 22-8 run to start the second half.
Bowers put an exclamation point on his scoring outburst with a thunderous tomahawk dunk off a slick pass from Phil Pressey.
Bowers said the dunk was important for him in regaining confidence after tearing his ACL before last season.
“That was my first dunk in a long time, it’s a big deal but honestly I was just the beneficiary of good passing,” Bowers said, who finished the game with 20 points and seven rebounds.
Once SIUE switched to a 2-3 zone, Bowers began licking his chops. Time and time again the lengthy forward camped out by the free throw line and waited for the ball, exploiting SIUE’s defense with multiple mid-range jumpers.
Coach Frank Haith credited Bowers’ hard work to his improved shooting.
“He is such a better shooter then he was last year and that is all just due to hard work,” Haith said. “He hit a couple of long 2’s and I am even comfortable with him shooting a three. When he catches the ball in rhythm, he’s pretty good.”
Haith also sang the praises of freshman guard Negus Webster-Chan. The Canadian had 11 points with four assists and no turnovers. Webster-Chan’s 34 minutes of playing time were the most of any Tiger besides Pressey, who had 35.
“I am so excited for Negus, he is really beyond his years as a player,” Haith said. “He stays within himself and I feel very good putting him out on the floor.”
“I really just try to do whatever I can to help my team, just trying to fit into a role,” Webster-Chan said.
Phil Pressey had the best all-around game of any Missouri Tiger, scoring 19 points while dishing out nine assists and pulling down five rebounds.
The Tigers also received a big game from senior Alex Oriakhi, who grabbed 15 rebounds to go along with his eight points and three blocks.
Up next for Missouri is a game against Alcorn State on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at Mizzou Arena.
Missouri guard Phil Pressey (1) finished the game with 19 points and nine assists.
Missouri forward, Tony Criswell (3), tries to get the ball to the post, to teammate Alex Oriakhi (42).
Missouri guard, Keion Bell, drives the ball through the paint to score with a layup. Bell finished the game 3 of 8 from the field with eight points.
Missouri forward, Laurence Bowers, not only can score the ball, but he can pass it.
Alex Oriahki (42) recorded 15 rebounds and eight points in Saturday’s season opener.