LEBANON — Missouri-St. Louis was clicking from the perimeter Friday.
The Tritons made a season-best 13 3-pointers --on 18 attempts --and all five starters reached double figures as they drubbed McKendree University 105-78 in the Great Lakes Valley Conference opener for both teams.
Senior Darian Cartharn led the parade with 24 points, six 3-pointers and five assists, while senior Michael Weber had 21 points, five 3-pointers and six assists as UMSL improved to 8-2 overall and 2-0 in the GLVC. Weber didn't miss from 3-point range.
Tritons coach Bob Sundvold said he sensed Thursday that something special could happen against McKendree (6-3, 0-1).
"We had a tremendous practice yesterday," Sundvold said. "I stopped it short and got them out of the gym, because the first four practices we had coming back (from the Christmas break) were horrible. So I was hoping this would be what we saw. This was how we played yesterday in practice."
Senior Femi John added 16 points for UMSL, and junior Aareon Smith had 12 and junior Tylor Wimbish had 10. Senior Shea Sumpter came off the bench and dropped in 10 points and junior Derek Shouse had the Tritons' other two 3s.
The Tritons, who had 22 assists, shot 59 percent from the field (41-for-69). The Bearcats' 105 points allowed matched a season-high also reached by Lincoln (Mo.) on Nov. 20.
"I didn't know they were that good," McKendree coach Harry Statham said, marveling at the Tritons' 13-for-18 showing on 3-pointers. "They're pretty good. We could have been better defensively on the perimeter, and I think they got inside a little bit too. They're a tough matchup for us.
"We've got to play better defense and shoot a little better. We weren't strong anywhere, really."
Senior Clinton Happe scored 21 points and was 8-for-8 from the free-throw line to lead McKendree, which got 19 points and three 3-pointers from junior Mike DiGregorio. Junior Jeremy Price had nine points. McKendree shot 44 percent (24-for-54).
McKendree trailed 53-45 at halftime and still were within 10 at 67-57 with 12:57 to play. But UMSL grasped control with an 11-2 run that produced a 78-59 lead at the 10:17 mark. The margin swelled to 31 points with 1:59 to play.
"We've got a good-shooting guard corps," said Sundvold, whose club is expected to contend in the GLVC West Division. "I told our guys, 'You're not recognizing what a guy's talents are. Cartharn, when his feet are set, let's hit him. He's a catch-and-shoot guy. Let's get it to him. And Weber, when he gets his feet set, let's get it to him.'
"Tonight, it was really good to see. I had a sense that this team could do this earlier in the year ... and really get into a rhythm. But I don't know if we were ready as a team to figure it out."
Statham was hit with a rare technical in the first half as UMSL opened a 26-17 lead.
"I was telling (an official) about one of the calls out there," Statham said. "He said, 'Now that's enough. Coach.' I said, 'OK.'
"I sat down and they made a call across the floor that wasn't his call and I turned to Eric (Echelbarger, McKendree's assistant coach) and said, 'They got that one.' He turned around and gave me a 'T.'"
Contact reporter David Wilhelm at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2665.