The Missouri basketball team finished its excursion to the Maui Invitational on a positive note Wednesday by defeating Chaminade 74-60.
The Tigers, 3-3, salvaged seventh place at the tournament with the win after losing to No. 3 Arizona and Purdue in their first two games.
Coach Kim Anderson had mixed emotions throughout the trip, praising his players for fighting against the favored Wildcats and shaking his head at them for failing to compete with Purdue. But Anderson, Missouri’s first-year coach, walked away from the event content with a workmanlike performance in the finale.
“It’s good to be able to come over here and win a game,” Anderson said. “I think we got a little bit better today. … It wasn’t very pretty, but I thought we played well enough to win. On the third day, to be able to come and get a win is important. So proud of these guys for hanging in there.”
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He was also proud of them for playing short-handed.
The Tigers had to go most of the day without Jonathan Williams III, a sophomore forward, who lasted seven minutes before heading to the bench with a sore knee.
That forced Anderson to switch to a smaller lineup, which ended up working well against the Silverswords, a Division II team that plays host to this tournament every year. Chaminade lost all three of it games and finished eighth.
Namon Wright led Missouri with 21 points, while Montaque Gill-Caesar scored 18 and Tramaine Isabell added nine.
“I just stayed prepared in warm-ups,” Wright said, “just to make sure I hit a good amount of jump-shots up and just stayed ready.”
It was also a solid bounce-back effort by Gill-Caesar, who managed two points against Purdue.
As a team, the Tigers made 48 percent of their shots, hitting nine of 21 three-pointers.
Chaminade’s Lee Bailey led all scorers with 22 points, but it wasn’t enough.
It was obvious from the start that Missouri was going to have a good day. It scored the game’s first nine points and held Chaminade off the scoreboard for nearly five minutes.
The Tigers led by as many as 18 in the first half, but a late run from the Silverswords, led by Kuany Kuany, made things interesting at halftime. Still, Missouri led 38-28.
Chaminade briefly pulled to within six in the second half, but it was all Tigers from there. Wright and Gill-Caesar led a 15-5 run that set them up for a comfortable victory.
“We’re feeling a little more confident in ourselves,” Gill-Caesar said. “We kind of went into halftime with the mentality that we weren’t going to be bullied anymore. So when we came out in the second half, we were just attacking on both sides of the floor. I think we just got easy stuff because we had that mind-set.”
The Tigers will now travel home to Columbia, where it will next play Southeast Missouri State on Tuesday.
Thanks to a win over Chaminade, they will do so with momentum on their side.
“They performed,” Anderson said of his team. “I’ll give them credit. They took the challenge and came out and played well. Not just younger guys, but everybody.”