It was a rival game, Saturday Jan. 12 in the MWSU Fieldhouse, and both teams played like it.
The intensity was high from the beginning to the end as the Griffon women pulled off a 68-66 victory over the relentless Northwest Missouri State women Bearcats.
Both teams started out the game with high energy and they both showed displays of good defense early.
The Griffons found themselves down 23-28 going in at halftime, and the Bearcats appeared to have an answer for the Griffons.
Heather Howard scored the first five points for Western in the beginning, but the Bearcats defense started to make it difficult for many of the Griffons to score. Bearcats went into the half with the momentum.
“We push the ball a lot more in the second half,” Howard said. “At halftime we said that we needed to get the pace of the game up, we did and that’s when we went on our run.”
Howard led the team with 16 points and 12 rebounds, and credited it to calming down and playing her game.
“There were a couple of shots that I just had to slow down on,” Howard said. “I slowed it down, and then I started knocking down shots. We just needed to get rebounds and sprint the floor.”
The pressure and speed of the Griffons caught up with the Bearcats and eventually Western was able to take the lead.
JaQuitta Dever and Lanicia Lawrence speed made it tough for the Bearcats and it caused turnovers that led to quick points.
The Griffons recorded 13 steals as a team and seemed to be on cruise control, but the Bearcats would not go away.
Northwest player Ashleigh Nelson kept her team in the game as she knocked down a multitude of 3’s.
Nelson had a game high with 26 points, while going 6-8 from behind the arc. She also led the team in minutes with 36.
Coach Rob Edmisson felt that the Griffons played just as relentless as the Bearcats. He noted that even though Nelson kept going, his team stayed in the game until the clock read double zero.
“Obviously that big play from JaQuitta Dever when she made that steal and put us back up by four helped,” Edmisson said. “It gave us a little breathing room because that Nelson kid from Northwest was unbelievable tonight.”
The griffons were able to hold off Nelson for the Victory. Edmisson felt that the speed of his players was the remaining factor in the game and it changed the momentum.
“Right of the bat, you can tell that we had a plan, and we broke their zone down,” Edmisson said. “The game is too slow when the score is 28 to 23 at half. We talked at halftime and we changed our press a little bit. We try to wear people down.”
The Griffons improve to 11-3 and 4-2 in MIAA play. Next up for the women is Lindenwood University on Jan. 16th for another home game at the fieldhouse.