MIAA heartbreak for Griffons

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Men lose on free throws to Hays 86-85

Kyle Inman | Staff

The Griffon men lost in heartbreaking fashion 86-85 against the Fort Hays State Tigers in the MIAA conference tournament Thursday at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, ending their season and leaving head coach Tom Smith with 599 career wins.

P’Allen Stinnet looks to get the ball to Lavonte Douglas during their first round MIAA tournament game against Fort Hays State. The Griffons fell 86-85 on last minute free throws. The game marks the end of Stinnet’s college career. Jason Brown | Asst. Photo Editor

Entering the tournament with a 12-15 record, Western was the seventh seeded team in the tournament while the Tigers (23-5) were the second seed.

The Griffons got off to a scorching start, shooting themselves to a 21-8 lead with 12:59 left to play in the first half on an Adrian Thomas three-point shot.
Fort Hays fought back by the 9:50 mark to cut the lead to four on a Ben Congiusta 3-pointer. Western held a four point lead at halftime, 44-40.

Both teams traded buckets the entire second half. Fort Hays guard Dominique Jones hit two free throws with nine seconds left in the game to push the score to 86-85 Tigers.

Western had one chance left to advance and keep their season alive with possession of the ball and nine seconds left to play. Griffon guard P’Allen Stinnett had the hot hand all night and found himself double covered when it came down to the last seconds. The ball was swung to an open TJ Johnson, who missed a 3-pointer as time expired.

Senior P’Allen Stinnett scored 26 points, grabbed eight rebounds, and shot 14-14 from the free throw line. Senior Adrian Thomas and junior TJ Johnson both added 18 points while junior Lavonte Douglas chipped in 12. Hays scored 25 points off fast breaks while the Griffons only put in four transition points.

There was 49 fouls called in the game but Smith does not believe officiating was a deciding factor in Western coming up just short.

“Calls are calls. The game was not decided by the officials; it was a very physical game,” Smith said. “I am proud of our team because normally the tough and physical game gets the best of us.”

Stinnett said that he did not have second thoughts about bringing his talents to the Division II level and playing for Western.

“It was up and down, but I don’t regret it. I’ll have it forever; it was fun,” Stinnett said.

Thomas, also a senior, said that this is not how he wanted to go out.

“We knew coming in that this was going to be a roller coaster,” Thomas said. “Me, P’Allen and the other seniors this is not the way we wanted to go out.”

Smith wanted to get historic win number 600 out of the way on Thursday.

“With this environment, it would have been a great place to get my 600th win,” Smith said. “Now I have to wait seven months and schedule the little sisters of the poor for the first game next season, someone that we can beat.”

Women drop close game to Blues 58-55

Matt Gleaves | Sports Editor

On a last second shot from Jessica Koch that just rolled off the rim, the Griffons’ season came to a heartbreaking end with a loss to 20th ranked Washburn 58-55.

Western was looking to cap off a back and forth game with a solid, win against the number two team in the MIAA.

With just 27 seconds left in the game and Western down by three, Alicia Bell stole the ball and took it the length of the court for a layup to make the score 56-55.

Coach Lynn Plett put the ball in the hands of his most reliable player, Koch, for the final shot to possibly win them the game and get them to the second round.

Koch drove in with just over 12 seconds left and put up a layup. She missed the layup but got the rebound and put up another attempt that missed as well. Washburn would rebound the missed attempt and Western would be forced to foul with eight seconds left in the game.

“We were just trying to get to the basket and get the lead and win the game, but that last shot just didn’t go in,” Koch said.

With five seconds left, Bell put up a desperation layup that fell short and ended the Griffons season at a mark of 14-13.

Koch carried the team for the first few minutes of the game, as she scored the Griffons first nine points.

Koch would finish the game with 17 points, leading all scorers, and 11 rebounds, ending the game with a double-double.

“Having Jess go off in the beginning of the game like that was huge for us,” Rachel Luteyn said. “It really gave us the confidence that we could play with them.”

Another key factor in the Griffons’ downfall was their lack of three point shooting. Washburn shot 40 percent from behind the arc, while Western was only able to put in 29 percent from 3-point land.

“I was proud of our defense in the paint tonight,” Plett said. “Seeing that they only made seven shots inside the three point line is discouraging, though.”
Western’s season was defined by several up and down stretches, with the team playing great at times and struggling on the road.

However, this season’s squad helped to restore a sense of pride in the women’s basketball program after the team has struggled with seasons of fewer than 10 wins the past two seasons.

“I will never forget this season and how we came together and didn’t let being picked 11th in the conference affect us,” Luteyn said.

Seniors that will be sorely missed will be Rachel Luteyn and Lauren Nolke.

Nolke shot 43 percent from 3-point range on the year and led the team in three point attempts.

Luteyn recorded 85 blocks on the season as well as leading the team in blocks as well.

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