Western women’s basketball played a heated game against Missouri Southern on Sat., Feb. 15 that unfortunately didn’t end the way Western had hoped.
It was their first conference loss at home since Jan. 4.
The first frame was dominated mostly by the Lions. They took an early 6-4 lead and kept it out of reach for the Griffons until the last minute. With :48 remaining in the first half, Sharniece Lewis knocked down a big three pointer, giving Western the 36-34 lead. Thanks to four free throws by Alex Saxen and Tanner Tripp, the Griffons held a 40-36 lead going into halftime.
The second half opened slowly for both teams. But, Western held their largest lead of the game at 44-38 with 16:33 remaining in the contest.
Despite holding the lead for the following seven minutes, two free throws by Hartzog of Southern put the Griffons down.
The score was neck and neck for the remainder of the game. Western would get close to surpassing Missouri Southern but as they approached, Southern would pull further ahead leaving Western behind.
They would spend the rest of the game trailing the Lions, ultimately losing 68-61.
Western put up great defense and resistance to keep Southern from going on a run. Tiffanie Abrams led Western with four steals and Alexis Gray was the only Griffon on the chart with blocks, she had a career high of four.
“Our strengths in the game was our defense, in my opinion,” Lewis said. “Our weaknesses was our fouling and not making our free throws. I think Southern shot free throws well and we did not.”
Unfortunately Western seemed to foul a lot and that worked against the team.
“I think we played hard and our energy was there,” JQ Dever said. “But, I think we fouled a lot, and when we got fouled down the stretch we didn’t shoot free throws well and that very much was a big part of the game.”
This game was a wake up call for Western defense and they will be working to correct these little mistakes.
“We’re now focusing on not fouling in practices so that when it comes time for the games, we’ll be smarter on defense,” Dever said. “Our strengths out on the court were that the players off of the bench gave us quality play in replacement of the players in foul trouble.”
In terms of offensive play, Lewis led the Griffons with a total of 21 points, going 3-for-3 from the arc. Gray quickly followed with 14 points and eight rebounds, both also career highs for her.
Hartzog of Southern led the Lions with 16 total points, going 13-for-16 from the line.
Western made the oppositions mistakes into an advantage as they claimed 23 points off of Southern’s 25 turnovers alone. The Griffons gained 22 points in the paint while the Lions claimed 16.
The Western bench players combined for 46 points of Western’s total 61 points.
The Griffons shot 73 percent from the free throw line as a team, making 11 out of the 15 attempted.
The loss against Southern makes this the Griffons third straight loss, leaving the team with a 9-13 overall record and at 4-11 in the MIAA conference.
Western will welcome rival Northwest to the MWSU Fieldhouse on Sat., Feb. 22. Tipoff is set for 1:30 p.m.