Griffons catch fire in upset victory on the road
By Kyle Inman
February 11, 2013
Western men’s basketball put on its best shooting display of the season in a 79-74 upset win over No. 17-ranked Washburn University in Topeka, Kan.
The Griffons shot a season-high in 3-point and field goal percentage, hitting 50 percent from deep and 57.8 percent overall. Six players registered double-figure scoring for the first time this season.
“It’s unbelievable for us,” coach Tom Smith said. “Everything just kind of went right. We got a lot better shots than we’ve been getting too. We moved the ball better and had a lot better rhythm in what we did. We kept talking about giving ourselves a chance to win and we did.”
Point guard Reed Mells came up clutch by making six straight free throws down the stretch to seal up the victory. Mells had a breakout game scoring 18 points, dishing out seven assists, grabbing four rebounds and stole the ball three times on the defensive end.
“Reed sparked us and fueled us taking over the point guard role,” Smith said. “He’s had trouble with that responsibility and he did it.”
One of the biggest transitions for sophomore Mells at the college level has been learning to impact every aspect of the game, not just focus on scoring the basketball. He plans to continue to make the type of all-around contributions that he displayed against Washburn.
“To be a really good or great player you have to be able to affect the game in multiple areas and passing is an area where I think that I can help the team,” Mells said.
After a tightly contested first half, the Griffons fell down 58-49 midway through the second half but never lost their composure facing the deficit.
“We really did a good job of keeping the tempo the way we needed it,” Smith said. “We went down by nine and never hit the panic button.”
Dzenan Mrkaljevic scored 16 points in just 21 minutes by hitting 6-for-7 from the field including 3-for-4 from 3-point distance. Dylan Frantz and Alfreeman Flowers score 12 points each while Cedric Clinkscales scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds. Kalvin Balque added 10 points including 2-for-3 from 3-point distance.
“Late in the game, we just executed very well and played a more physical game than they probably thought we could play,” Balque said. “We started to execute and it was hard to stop us.”
Western withstood 32 points from Martin Mitchell and 16 from Will McNeil, a scoring output from two players that would usually result in a loss if not for the hot shooting. Western’s post players out-scored the Ichabod big men.
“I thought our ball movement was really good,” Smith said. “We moved the ball well and our 3′s had a lot of rhythm to them. It was just boom,boom, boom in rhythm.”
Western was more efficient from the 3-point line, connecting on 10-for-20 from 3-point distance while Washburn manage to hit only 8-for-24.
With the win, Western improved to 9-12 on the season and 5-8 in MIAA conference play.