Yordano Ventura quit school at 14 and was working construction until his big break: a tryout that led to a spot in the Kansas City Royals’ academy in the Dominican Republic. But even after making the major leagues and pitching in the World Series, Ventura wouldn’t live anywhere else than Las Terrenas, his hometown, where he trained on the beach and swam in the ocean.
UMKC came home and ended a seven-game losing streak to Division I opponents with a 79-72 victory over Nebraska-Omaha on Saturday in front of 2,719 at Municipal Auditorium. The Kangaroos got 25 points and six assists from point guard Martez Harrison. Frank Williams added 16 and Deshon Taylor 12 as UMKC improved to 4-7.
The Kangaroos return home Saturday to take on William Jewell (7:05 p.m. at Municipal Auditorium) after a tough road stretch. A 66-63 loss at Youngstown State on Wednesday was the team’s third straight loss, all away from home.
After a 2-1 start, the Kangaroos lost to host Arkansas-Little Rock and Samford during a mainland portion of the Maui Invitational last weekend. UMKC next faces Youngstown State at 6 p.m. Wednesday in Ohio.
So much of UMKC’s inspired efforts to open the season revolved around point guard Martez Harrison’s scoring ability. In the Kangaroos’ 90-77 home opening victory over Missouri S&T on Wednesday, his playmaking was on display. Harrison finished with 11 assists, the most by a UMKC player since 1999 and two short of the school record.