Missouri Western took on Southwest Baptist Jan. 21 at MWSU Fieldhouse. Heading into the game Missouri Western men’s basketball team record was 8-8 overall, while being 4-6 in the MIAA conference. After Wednesday night’s close game, the men’s team falls to an overall record of 8-9.
The end score of the game was 79-78. This close game came down to the last second, were the officiating was extremely objectionable. Missouri Western athlete Lonnel Johnson was upset at some of the calls.
“The officials were the cause of the loss,” Johnson said.
With Baptist being ranked fifth in the nation they advance their record to 14-3 overall and 8-2 in the MIAA conference.
The Griffons struggled at the beginning of the game with the Bearcats. The Bearcats took a quick 12-point lead in the opening two minutes, but the Griffons weren’t worried. Johnson and his teammates relished in the underdog roll.
“We like to call ourselves the underdogs; we have a lot of heart,” Johnson said.
One of the problems that Western struggled with was their shooting performance. The Griffons shot 42 percent from the floor and went 7 of 28 behind the arc. While Baptist shot 51 percent from the floor and went 10 of 25 from behind the arc.
The Griffons play hard on offense with 34 points in the paint, and having 27 bench points for the game. The Griffons also made 16 points off of turnovers against Southwest.
Western entered Wednesday’s contest with a focus at getting the ball inside. Western was led by Dominique Thuston and Johnson, as they both scored 13 points.
The Griffons were ahead at half time with an eight-point lead of 42-34. The first four minutes of the game the team had two missed threes, one layup and a missed jump shot. This was a tough loss for head coach Tom Smith to handle.
“The most difficult part about being a coach is nights like these when you lose close games like tonight,” Smith said. “We have to take one game at a time and play hard and competitive, like we did tonight.”
With eight out of 13 players that are new to the Griffons, they all show a lot of heart and dedication and are determined to achieve the goal. It doesn’t get any easier for the Griffons as they prepare to host many conference foes, including the Washburn Ichabods and the Fort Hays Tigers.
The Griffons five conference victories have them in eigth place in the MIAA. After missing the MIAA conference tournament the past two seasons, the Griffons are looking to secure a spot.