After a heartbreaking loss to rival Northwest Missouri, the Griffons bounced back, defeating conference leader Lindenwood University 67-58 and improving to 10-11 overall.
The first half of the match was played close by both teams with neither team leading by more than seven points. The game was tied at three different moments in the first half but, thanks to two early threes and a layup by guard Wes Mitter, Western was able to head into halftime leading by seven points with a score of 29-22.
Head coach Brett Weiberg understands how important Mitter’s quick points were towards the outcome of the game.
“The minutes Wes Mitter gave us were huge,” Weiberg said. “A guy comes in and hits two threes and a two, scoring eight huge points in the first half, while Aaron Emmanuel was out in foul trouble… you just can’t over emphasize how important that is and how that helps you win basketball games.”
The Griffons started the second half with a 9-0 run until the Lions made a free throw. Western’s lead grew to 16 points while their offense continued to execute and the defense limited Lindenwood’s opportunities. The Lions did not give up, slimming the lead down to seven with just under two minutes left in the game. Although Western’s lead dwindled down to as low as five points, they never allowed Lindenwood to gain the lead, toppling the conference leaders 67-58.
Guards Cortrez Colbert and Cole Clearman lead the Griffons’ offense with 23 and 13 points respectively, and forward Dareon Jones was among the leaders with 11 points scored. On the defensive end, forward Kevin Thomas pulled down seven rebounds while guards Hans Thun and Colbert each had six.
Weiberg attributes some of their success towards the team implementing the game plan well.
“We defended them pretty well and the kids carried over what we wanted them to do,” Weiberg said. “They also did a pretty good job taking advantage of what we could take advantage of offensively.”
Western is now 10-11 overall and 6-8 in the conference, improving to No. 9 in the MIAA.
The next step towards making the MIAA tournament is a road game against the Missouri Southern State University Lions on Saturday, Feb. 14. Currently, the Lions are three spots above the Griffons with a 14-8 overall record and a 8-5 conference record.