MOBERLY, Mo. - The highest-scoring team in the country relied on its defense Saturday.
Three Rivers, averaging 98.5 points to lead the nation, held Moberly Area scoreless for the final 3 minutes to win 57-54 on Saturday at Moberly.
"They can win the other way, too," Three Rivers coach Alex Wiggs said. "They understand that not every game is going to be a blowout."
This was the Raiders' first challenge of the season, and first Region XVI game, after Three Rivers won its first four games by an average of 51 points.
Moberly Area (6-2, 1-1 Region XVI), ranked 11th in the most recent NJCAA poll, scored six straight points midway through the fourth quarter to cause the third of four lead changes in a game where neither team led by double digits.
With under 4 minutes left in the game, Bryce Dowell swished back-to-back 3s to put the Greyhounds ahead 54-52. It was the third of four lead changes in a game where neither team led by double digits.
With 90 seconds left, Myia Yelder grabbed an offensive rebound for the Raiders and kicked it out to Chaylea Mosby at the top of the key. Mosby drove right, drew contact against Kayla Langley, and banked in the layup after getting knocked to the floor. After all her teammates jogged over to help her up, Mosby made the free throw to put 21st-ranked Three Rivers (5-0, 1-0) ahead.
"That was a huge play for us to end the game with," Wiggs said. "You can't go up afraid of contact. You can't be afraid to make the play."
With under 30 seconds to go, Moberly Area tried to get the ball inside to their bigs, who had shot well all night, but Jamiyah Thomas jumped in front and stole the pass.
The Greyhounds weren't able to get the quick turnover and put Hya Haywood on the foul line in the double bonus with 17 seconds left.
Haywood made one, and out of a timeout, Ambranett Storr, who was 2 for 16 shooting on the night, drove from the wing and tried a running jumper that missed everything but the glass.
Mosby, who finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 3.7 seconds left. She made the second, setting the final score, and Storr missed an NBA-length 3 as time expired.
"The last 3 minutes, we really lock in on doing 'my job,' doing 'our job' as a team to get a stop," Wiggs said.
Thomas and Joi Montgomery both had 11 points to match Mosby and lead the team. Montgomery also had eight rebounds and Thomas had six.
Neither team shot well in the low-scoring game. The Raiders finished 20 for 64 (31.3%) while Moberly Area was 18 for 60 (30.0%).
"I don't know if this was an offensive struggle of a defensive (showcase)," Wiggs said.
The Greyhounds found success inside. Langley was 50% shooting for eight points and nine rebounds. Fellow starting forward and leading scorer B'Aunce Carter was 6 for 9 for 19 points and seven rebounds.
However, the rest of the Greyhound starting lineup was 7 for 41, and the only person on the bench who attempted a shot was NJ Weems, who was 2 for 4 for six points.
The Raider bench wasn't much better. It was 5 for 24 for 12 points.
Montgomery was 5 for 6 on the night, and Thomas was 5 for 10 as the only starters to shoot 50% or better. Cameran Martin was 2 for 2 off the bench.
Three Rivers also had 12 steals and 19 points off turnovers, while the Greyhounds two steals and 13 points off turnovers.
"Once we got a steal or got a turnover, we didn't force the next pass," Wiggs said.
The Raiders host State Fair at 3 p.m. Monday, travel to Mineral Area on Wednesday, then host Jefferson on Feb. 27 for four Region XVI games in eight days after not playing since Feb. 3 because of several weather-related cancelations, including State Fair.
"We've prepared for State Fair three times. We'll do it one more time (Sunday)," Wiggs said. "I think it puts us in a good spot."
Scott Borkgren - Daily American Republic