With two returning players back for Missouri Western, the Griffons used their full house in order to produce a win.
In doing so, they shot 59 percent from the field as Western defeated Fort Hays State 90-78 Monday night at MWSU Fieldhouse.
Western had been on a five game losing streak after it pulled three straight wins to open the new year. However, with two players — Ashleigh Curry and CC Bozeman — coming off of a team suspension, the Griffons looked out of sync the past week. That all changed Monday.
After going into halftime down 33-32, the Griffons forced four straight Tiger turnovers, three of which turned into points for the home team. Senior Jessica Koch said that it was a team effort that she could only explain occurred because the team fought the whole game.
“The past two games, we played great against two great teams,” Koch said. “We knew that eventually we weren’t going to just get close, we were going to start winning, especially with Ashleigh and CC, that’s just going to take us over the top.”
Koch stressed that in the MIAA, her team knows that if they make a late run, they have a shot at winning more than just one game.
Coming into Monday, Western currently sat as the first team out of the MIAA tournament seeding, sitting at the No. 9 seed. In order to go to Kansas City in March, the Griffons need to place in the top eight. With four wins in the conference, their chances of making it have shot up dramatically.
“Subconsciously, the fact that we were competitive with the top teams should have given us some confidence,” coach Lynn Plett said. “Just because we did this tonight doesn’t mean we’re going to do this the next night. But hopefully we gained the confidence of the last three ball games and carry it on.”
Monday, the Griffons showed that and more.
Reserves players Brittany Casady and Emily Romdenne didn’t miss a shot (combined 4-for-4) and the Griffons shot 40 percent from the 3-point line. Along with a defense that bothered the Tigers all game, Western improved its place to a tie at No. 8 with Southwest Baptist.
“Our goal all along has been to get everything together and start clicking,” Plett said.
Plett pointed to Koch and Curry’s speed as a reason to transition buckets. He also said Kallie Schoonover and Alex Noble had more confidence which resulted in buckets.
Curry came back from the suspension and attacked the hoop, just as she had played before. The star senior, who suited up for just the fourth time this season, came off the bench with just over 15 minutes to play and immediately showed her quickness.
The skill guard totalled a team-high 24 points and went 8-for-13 from the field.
“The team came together and we dominated,” Curry said. “We can surprise a lot of teams with the tempo we had tonight.”
The Griffons do not play another home game until Feb. 22 when they take on Central Missouri. Until that date, Western plays five-straight road games.
With that in mind, the Griffons made a statement the fans will remember until they step back on the court for their next home meeting.
Center Brittany Griswold missed her second-straight game with a foot injury and could be out for a couple more weeks.