Western Women’s basketball cranked up their defense to run out to a win against Nebraska-Kearney and clinched a MIAA tournament birth. The women won 71-36, wearing their pink camouflage jerseys to show their support of breast cancer awareness and Military Appreciation day at MWSU Field House.
With this win, the Griffons improve to 14-10 overall and 7-9 in the MIAA and snapped a three-game losing streak. The Griffons put Nebraska-Kearney to 6-15 overall and 3-11 in the MIAA.
Missouri Western started off slow, losing against the Lopers 7-3. After that, the Griffons turned up the pressure and went on a 21-2 run, forcing the Lopers to 20 first-half turnovers. After the Griffons trailed by 4 points in the opening minutes, they never looked back, not trailing at all in the entire game.
Western Coach Rob Edmisson knew that the defensive intensity was going to be a factor to the Griffons winning the game. The Griffons’ defense made the Lopers uncomfortable the entire game, grabbing 13 steals in just the first half.
“Our defense intensity was really good and this was a much needed win,” Coach Edmisson said.
Western forced the Lopers to 39 turnovers. It’s a fun way to play, getting points from our defense and we needed this really bad. It lifted our spirits,” Western forward Heather Howard said. Western had 28 steals from the Lopers leading to many points.With the Lopers under the Griffons stifling defense there pressure was to much to overcome.
The Griffons were energized from the 2071 in attendance, with the crowd roaring when the Griffons went into halftime, leading 37-13.
In the second half, the Griffons didn’t let up, outscoring the Lopers 34-23. The Griffons held the Lopers scoreless from the three-point line in the entire game.
“We played comfortable tonight and this win got us back where we need to be,” Western guard Denis White said.
Denis White was great coming off the bench, shooting 5-6 with 10 points and 2 steals. Western allowed the Lopers to have only eight field goals in the second half. With this win, Western was able to complete their season sweep over Nebraska-Kearney. Western’s largest lead of the game was 37 points at the 4:23 mark in the second half.
With the Griffons outscoring the Lopers in bench points 35-8, the starting five had plenty of help. Sharniece Lewis had 12 points, nine in the first half with three three-pointers. Heater Howard stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, four rebounds, four blocks and three steals. JaQuitta Dever was another spark off the bench, adding 12 points and four steals.
Missouri Western shot 42.4% field goal and 27.6 percent behind the 3 point line. Western shot 70% free throw.
Missouri Western was able to showcase their talents in their first televised MIAA Network home game.
The Griffons next matchup is against Fort Hays State on the road. After that, the Griffons’ last game is next Saturday at home against Southwest Baptist. The MIAA tournament starts Tuesday March 5th at campus sites.