Ronnie Rousseau III was clutching a large bag of mints and talking with his mother Saturday before a post-game radio spot when a fan approached him.
“Good game,” the fan said. “You’re from Cincinnati, right? Thanks for coming to State Fair!”
It was a sincere and appropriate gesture. Earlier, Rousseau provided the key, crowd-pleasing plays, along with 34 points to lead State Fair over No. 10 ranked Iowa Western, 96-89.
The 5-foot-10 point guard was 11 of 16 from the field and 4 of 6 from three.
Head coach Kevin Thomas said he was happy with Rousseau’s efficiency.
“Those are really, really good numbers,” Thomas said. “When he’s making shots, and he’s efficient like that, we can’t get him enough shots.”
Both teams shot above 45 percent from the field. After losing an early lead in the second half, State Fair required dramatic plays to overcome the Reivers. Rousseau and company obliged.
The Reivers produced a 9-point lead in the second half punctuated by a big, one-handed Dominique Bell dunk.
A 15-5 State Fair run followed, and, with seven minutes to play, Asem Johnson scored on a tip-in to bring the Roadrunners within 2 points. Rousseau stole the ensuing inbounds pass, drawing a foul and making a miraculous lay-in.
Rousseau lay on his back and applauded with the home crowd at its loudest. He made the free throw and State Fair led 71-70.
Johnson finished with 16 points. Joshua Bailey had 14 on four treys and two free throws. Clint Robinson added 13 points, six rebounds and four blocks.
State Fair (15-6) stayed ahead of the Reivers early by going 5-for-10 from three. The teams entered halftime tied at 45.
Andre Wallace led Iowa Western with 21 points. Thik Bol had 17 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks.
Iowa Western led State Fair in rebounds 48-34. Thomas said that stat would have been pivotal in a Roadrunners loss.
“We’ve got to do a better job of making sure we defend the rebound,” Thomas said. “I don’t think we rebounded the ball very well tonight. We gave a lot of second-chance shots, and we missed some free throws early on. I thought we did a better job towards the end of the game of knocking those down. But we’ve got to get better at rebounding the basketball and limiting teams to one possession.”
The Roadrunners were 23-for-35 from the free-throw line. Iowa Central was called for 27 fouls to State Fair’s 16.
State Fair faces MCC-Penn Valley in Kansas City at 7 p.m.
Alex Agueros can be reached at 660-826-1000, ext. 1483 or on Twitter @abagueros2