The Griffons closed out Wednesday’s game with a 70-65 win against the Pittsburg State Gorillas, and may have given the team a turn back towards their winning ways.
After lagging just behind the Gorillas virtually all night, the Griffons high pressured defense and physical toughness showed to be too much in the end. Western’s coach Rob Edmisson felt like pulling out a win after those three conference losses is a huge boost for this team’s confidence at this point of the season.
“It’s a big win,” Edmisson said. “It didn’t matter who we were playing. We needed to win and to win against a very quality team is a big thing too.”
Shooting has not been a strength for the Griffons this season, and was especially rough during their three losses where they shot just 34 percent from the floor. It’s no secret that the team has gotten the job done so far this season from their vicious defense, the same defense that forced Pittsburg State into giving up almost twice as many turnovers as the Griffons. They proved within the last few minutes that their defense allows them to hang with the best, and their offense finishing strong on top of that can produce wins.
With about five and a half minutes left in the game, Western’s senior guard, Alicia Bell, pressured Pittsburg State’s point guard into a jump ball and a turnover, which was the first for a series of turnovers that helped the Griffon’s seal the deal.
“I think it kind of got the team going and helped set the tone for what the coach was asking for,” Bell said. “A lot of people think coach is always mad but it’s because of the things you don’t know. We’re supposed to be doing that every single time there is a made basket, and we tend to fall back when we’re tired. I think towards the end we realized it’s our bailout and we have to bring the pressure and do what we know we can do.”
Coach Edmisson has no problem turning towards Bell’s intensity when the team is in need of someone who can lead by example.
“She’s such a tough kid,” Edmisson said. “She makes what I call special plays. We expect college basketball players to make layups and free throws, but those extra special hustle plays that you have to sacrifice your body for when you know it’s going to hurt, that’s the type of player Alicia Bell is. She’s that extra effort player.”
Bell finished the night with 11 points, four assists, and eight rebounds.
One extra effort play in particular was another forced turnover that turned into an and-one for Brittany Griswold with the assist coming from Bell with just a second left on the shot clock and just over a minute left. It was a play that helped separate the Griffons lead right when they needed it most.
Griswold, who had 14 points against the Gorillas, really noticed how the win was going to go to the team who ultimately fought harder for it.
“It was a battle,” Griswold said. “They didn’t roll over and just let us have it. Down to it I think it was a question of who was going to work harder. I think knowing that was just a confidence builder for the team.