Dezi Jones delivered a game-high 25 points as the Hannibal Pirates dealt the Fulton Hornets their first loss of the season in a 67-57 NCMC setback at Roger D. Davis Gymnasium on Tuesday night.
Fulton — which was playing its home and North Central Missouri Conference opener — slipped to 3-1 on the season. The Hornets led 13-12 after one quarter, but Hannibal outscored Fulton 17-8 in the second quarter to carry a 29-21 edge into halftime.
The Pirates then began to pull away by outscoring the Hornets 22-11 in the third quarter, stretching their advantage to 51-32. Fulton made the outcome respectable by outscoring Hannibal 25-16 in the fourth quarter.
"Turnovers and offensive rebounds (20 by the Pirates) hurt us all night," Hornets head coach Justin Gilmore said. "When you play a team as good as Hannibal, you can't give them extra possessions.
"I thought we probably played our best defensive game of the year, but we gave up too many second chances and Hannibal made us pay."
Senior guard AJ Reid — who made 7-of-13 shots — produced 18 points to guide three players in double figures for Fulton. Junior forward Tyler Sayler supplied 13 points and senior guard Anthony Paine contributed 12.
"We were down as many as 21 (points) late in the game, so I was proud of the guys for battling back to make it close at the end," Gilmore said. "We've got to toughen up a little and tighten things up on the offensive end, but there were some positives."
Preston Bennett and Adreke Brumbaugh added 14 points apiece for Hannibal.
The Hornets' junior varsity triumphed in its season opener, downing the Pirates 61-43. Sophomore Seth Sayler responded with a team-high 17 points and sophomore AJ Henderson chipped in with 10.
Fulton remains at home for a NCMC contest against Marshall at 6 p.m. Friday.