The Missouri Western basketball teams opened their first home game in exhibition matches against Livin’ The Dream. Both teams won with the women’s score being 81-64 and the men 78-65.
The Griffon Women played first on Thursday and came out with a bang. The Griffons controlled L.T.D. for the majority of the first half, shooting 42.1 percent from the floor. The Griffons were led by Lauren Nolke who had 11 points and Brenda Saline who had nine. They managed to end the first half 42-27. Unfortunately, during the second half L.T.D. fought back, cutting the Griffon lead to one point at 5:25. But the Griffon women would not be outdone: for the remainder of the second half the Griffons outscored L.T.D. 20-4.
Head coach Lynn Plett thought that Western played slow and didn’t execute after the first half.
“We lacked the attention we need to play hard for 40 minutes,” Plett said. “We fall into lulls during games and then we lose confidence and we can’t execute much of anything correctly and that’s what happened tonight.”
Brenda Saline agreed with Coach Plett.
“We didn’t work as hard as we should have and we lost our concentration on defense several times,” Saline said. “I think we work well together though, but we definitely did not play to our potential tonight.”
The Griffon Men had the opposite effect of the Women’s team, coming out slow and lethargic against L.T.D and then turning the heat up in the second half. The Griffon men led early with a couple quick baskets from Martin Nolan, James Bush and Quentin Noblin, taking of lead of 8-3. However, this would be their biggest lead of the half. L.T.D. took advantage of Griffon mistakes and ended the half with a lead of 39-29. The Griffons only shot 32.4 percent from the field and 11.1 percent beyond the arc while L.T.D. shot 41.9 percent from the field and 33.3 percent beyond the arc.
Missouri Western, behind the hot hand of Justin Taylor, stormed back and took a lead of 44-41 at 14:44. The Griffons shooting hand improved drastically, shooting 43.2 percent from the field on 49 points. Missouri Western also cranked up the defense, allowing only two points off of turnovers and six points in the paint. The Griffon Men were not to be denied and the score was 78-65 at the final buzzer.
Head coach Tom Smith was disappointed with his team’s performance.
“We played poorly, but I personally think it was the pressure of their first home game,” Smith said. “Our rebounding and turnovers were a problem which made our players shoot poorly. We practice hard and we work well together, not tonight obviously, but I think it was just first home game jitters. We’ll get past it.”
Martin Nolan wasn’t happy with his team’s effort, but was thinking positively.
“We played poor, slow defense during the first half, and we didn’t execute what we practiced,” Nolan said. “It’s not going to be a problem in future games though, because we’ll practice harder than we did and learn from our mistakes.”