For the first 5 minutes of Thursday's contest, Truman and Center were locked into a back-and-forth tussle.
Each team were hitting a majority of the shots in the first quarter in a consolation game of the Nelson Division bracket in the William Jewell High School Holiday Classic.
The Patriots hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter and held a lead over the Yellowjackets, but ceded the lead late in the quarter. From there, Center slowly pulled away to pick up a 65-41 win at the Mabee Center at William Jewell Classic.
“We haven't handled adversity well all year, and we are working on it,” Truman coach Rod Briggs said. “I hope the adversity now will make us tougher later, and we will handle it better in conference (play).”
Truman got treys from Cameron Robins, Charles Freeman and Macio Moananu in the first quarter and Sam Billimon had a pair of baskets. The Patriots went 7-for-12 from the field in the first quarter and hit 3 of 6 shots from behind the arc.
Center (6-2) kept pace by hitting 8 of 14 shots and a pair of threes, and took a 19-17 lead into second quarter and expanded on it.
The focus on shutting down Daryl Wright by the Patriots (2-8) worked – he was held scoreless after posting 25 points in a loss to Blue Springs – but the other weapons stepped up for the Yellowjackets.
“We took good shots and executed well, but are defense was never good all night, and we let their big guys score as well,” Briggs said. “No. 24 (Wright) was a man beast yesterday (Wednesday) and we had a chance. Their best player was not a factor, but other guys stepped up, and we don't have enough size in the post.”
Five different players for Center posted points in the second period to lead a balanced attack that gave them a 35-24 lead at the break. Jeremiah Wilson, a 6-foot-4 forward who will play football at Missouri State, and 6-foot-6 post Chris Goodwin had four points each in the frame for the Yellowjackets.
Truman didn't aide itself much in the second quarter by shooting 30 percent from the field, hitting 1 of 8 free throws and missing all three 3-point attempts.
“We make two or three more threes and make free throws, it would be an interesting game,” Briggs said.
The size advantagewas noticeable as the game went on as Center – with five players 6-foot-4 or taller – went inside to Goodwin a lot in the third quarter. He had had nine of his career-high 25 points in the third quarter.
Truman was limited to 11 points over the two middle quarters and had only four points in the third quarter and was scoreless the final 3 minutes.
“Our defense got some clutch stops, and we were actually playing defense consistently,” Center coach LaDale Wooten said. “Our defense is our best offense, and that is what we hang our hat on. We had good opportunities in transition, and we got the ball inside.”
Truman made a charge late in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Yellowjackets by six, and went on an 8-0 run – the only time during the last three quarters the Patriots pieced together consecutive baskets.
Billmon scored a team-high 9 points for Truman, who had eight other players score at least two points.