SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — Little Rock fought back from a six point halftime deficit and Ruot Monyyong hit the game-winning shot with 2.3 seconds remaining, propelling the Trojans to a 67-66 win over Missouri State at JQH Arena in Springfield.
"I think our team grew up a little bit tonight," said head coach Darrell Walker. "It was good to see we didn't flinch when they went on their runs and we had some young guys step up in big moments. This was a big win for this team, especially on the road against a good team."
All nine Trojan players that saw action recorded at least two points on the night, led by 13 points with eight rebound from Ben Coupet Jr. in his Trojan debut. Markquis Nowell added 12 points, including going 4-for-4 from the free throw line, with Jaizec Lottie adding 10 points off the bench.
Ruot Monyyong had a stellar debut for the Trojans as well, finishing with nine points and seven rebounds, including the game-winning shot as the time expired. Alsean Evans finished with eight points with six points for Kris Bankston.
As a team, Little Rock shot 51.9 percent from the floor, hitting 27 of 52 shots on the night, and going 10-of-15 from the free throw line. Little Rock committed just 13 turnovers, four less than its season average from 2018-19, while limiting the Bears to 42.6% from the floor as Missouri State made just eight of 28 three point attempts.
The win over Missouri State is Little Rock's first over the Bears, snapping the seven game losing streak. Little Rock is now 42-40 in season openers and has won six of the last eight, registering its first season-opening victory on the road since the 57-47 win over SMU to start the 2010-11 season.
First Half Notes
• Ben Coupet Jr. got off to a fast start in his Trojan debut, making three of his first four attempts and scoring seven of Little Rock's first nine points, giving Little Rock the early 9-7 lead.
• Missouri State used a 10-2 run to pull ahead 17-11, but Little Rock responded with an 11-4 run of its own, taking the 22-21 lead on a three from Ruot Monyyong at the 7:56 mark.
• The Bears built their largest lead of the game at 31-24 with 5:22 remaining in the opening half, a deficit that was dwindled down to three at 34-31 off a pair of free throws from Markquis Nowell with 2:23 remaining.
• Little Rock shot 50% from the floor in the opening 20 minutes, hitting 13-of-26 shots, and committed seven turnovers while limiting Missouri State to 47% shooting, including just 4-of-16 from three-point range.
• Coupet led all players in the first half with 11 points and six rebounds, shooting 5-of-6 from the floor while hitting his lone three point attempt. Eight different Trojans scored at least two points in the opening 20 minutes.
Second Half Notes
• After trailing by six at the half, Little Rock forced a pair of turnovers early in the second half and pulled to within one at 46-45 with 12:41 remaining.
• Back-to-back baskets by Markquis Nowell pulled Little Rock to within three at 52-49 with 8:38 remaining. Following a turnover, Little Rock had a chance to trim the deficit to one, but a missed layup led to a transition three for Missouri State, extending the lead to 55-49 at 8:09.
• Jaizec Lottie hit one of two free throws off a transition foul, pulling to within two at 58-56, but Missouri State responded with an and-one off a three point shot with 6:27 remaining, converting the four-point play and extending the lead to 62-56 off Kris Bankston's fifth personal foul.
• Lottie hit three-straight free throws, then drained a three in transition to pull the Trojans to within one at 62-61 with 5:07 remaining.
• A pair of baskets from Alsean Evans gave Little Rock the 65-64 lead with 1:14 remaining. After a pair of free throws for the Bears, Little Rock was able to bleed the clock, leading to Monyyong's game-winning shot with 2.3 seconds remaining.
Up Next
Little Rock will remain on the road against the Missouri Valley Conference, traveling to Normal, Illinois, to take on Illinois State Sunday, November 10. Opening tip against the Redbirds will be at 3 p.m. at Redbird Arena.