In championship fashion, the Griffons (9-6) edged out the Gorillas, and gave the 1,388Â fans in attendance at the MWSU Fieldhouse a game to remember.
Coming off of two straight conference wins against Central Missouri and Fort Hays State, the Griffons were able to make it three in a row in the MIAA (4-3) by defeating the Pittsburg State Gorillas 77-75 in a nail-biter that came down to the wire.
Missouri Western went into the half, leading 38-31. The Gorillas kept it close the rest of the game. Even with the Griffons leading by as much as thirteen, the game was a back and forth battle. But in the last minute of the contest, the Griffons would learn how crucial it would really become.Â
Having struggled earlier in the game with free throws, senior Chemia Woods was fouled with 26 seconds left and realized that she could increase her team’s lead by three.
“I need to make these free throws because if we lose, I’m going to cry, and that’s all bad,” Woods said jokingly.
She nailed the free throws and made the score 75-72. Pitt. State immediately took a 30 second timeout. The Griffons huddled over Coach Plett to establish their game plan.
“We need to guard against the three point shot and not let them get any threes off,” Plett said.
The plan did not work exactly as they had hoped. With 17 seconds on the clock, the Gorillas sank a huge three pointer to tie the game at an even 75-75.
Trying to avoid going into overtime, the Griffons plan was to score swiftly and hold off any other attempts of a Pittsburg State rally. Like a finely tuned machine, the Western steam rolled down the court, and passed the ball into the post where it was in the hands of senior Jill Johnson.Â Johnson was fouled on the shot attempt with six seconds left. Exhibiting her senior poise, Johnson made both free throws, which put the Lady Griffons ahead for good, 77-75.
Not only have the past few wins developed a rhythm for team, they have also blessed the Griffons with an impelling force called momentum. Coach Plett believes that in order to keep the team’s momentum rolling against Emporia State, “We need to continue to play with confidence, maintain composure, and also to be able to not get rattled by the some of the pressure that might be put on by Emporia’s aggressive defensive style of play.”
That is something that will be needed as the Lady Griffons head off to face the No. 16 ranked Emporia State Hornets on Jan. 29.