Wayne State used a game-high 16 points from junior guard Brian Goodwin to lead the Wildcats in a season opening 70-57 men’s college basketball win Friday evening at Missouri Western in the 25th annual Hillyard Tip-Off Classic in St. Joseph, Mo.
The win snapped a 17-game road losing streak for the Wildcats dating back to January 30, 2015 when they posted a 77-75 win at Mary.
Missouri Western held a commanding 22-4 advantage on points in the paint over the Wildcats in the first half and held a 30-29 lead at intermission.
The host Griffons took an early 8-2 lead, but Goodwin produced back-to-back treys to even the score at 8-8. After Missouri Western took an 18-12 lead for its biggest lead of the first half at the 7:43 mark, Wayne State battled back and took a 21-20 lead on a Tony Bonner layup with 4:43 remaining in the half.
The Wildcats held a pair of three point leads, but Missouri Western closed the half with the final four points for a 30-29 lead at halftime.
The Wildcats opened the second half scoring nine straight points to take the lead for good. A Goodwin jumper, layups from Vance Janssen and Austin Esters and a Goodwin 3-pointer put Wayne State in front 38-30.
After the Griffons closed to within two at 42-40 at the 12:47 mark, the Wildcats reeled off the next nine points and took a 51-40 lead on a JJ Zumbrennen 3-pointer with 10:11 to play.
The Griffons closed within seven at 51-44 but that is as close as the hosts would get as the Wildcats pushed the lead back to double figures for the final eight minutes to finish with the 70-57 win.
Goodwin was the lone Wildcat in double figures with 16 points followed by Kendall Jacks, Matt Thomas and Austin Esters with nine apiece.
Wayne State shot 26 of 63 from the field for 41.3 percent, including 8 for 23 behind the 3-point line. The Wildcats were just 10 for 19 at the free throw line.
Cole Clearman paced Missouri Western with 15 points while Seth Bonifas and Beau Baker each reached double digits with 12 and 10 points respectively. Missouri Western was 24 of 56 from the floor for 42.9 percent. The Griffons were just 2 of 13 behind the arc and 7 of 11 at the charity stripe.
Wayne State won the rebounding battle over Missouri Western 42-35 thanks to six rebounds each from Jordan Cornelius and Esters. The Wildcats had just eight turnovers in the game with 16 assists as Thomas handed out five and Jacks four to lead the ‘Cats.
Wayne State will play another game at the Hillyard Tip-Off Classic Sunday, battling sixth-ranked Northwest Missouri State in a 1:30 p.m. contest.