After falling to the No. 12 Central Missouri Mules on Thursday, the Griffons increased their losing streak to four games with a loss to the Southwest Baptist Bearcats on Saturday.
Western kept the game close through the beginning of the first half, tying the score at 21. They could not take the lead while SW Baptist went on a 12-1 run to take a 33-22 lead towards the end of the half. The Griffons fought to erase the double-digit lead, but found themselves down by twelve with a Bearcat lead of 41-29. It seemed as though Western would go into halftime with a double-digit deficit, but guard Trey Sampson drained a last second three-pointer to pull within nine points with a 41-32 score.
In the second half, the Griffons continued to chip away at the Bearcats’ lead, as they piled on an 11-6 run to pull within three points by a score of 47-44. Western kept battling, dropping SW Baptist’s lead to only one point multiple times by scores of 48-49, 51-50 and 69-68 before tying the game at 69 late in the half thanks to a made free throw by forward Currie Byrd. They briefly took a one-point, 70-69 lead off of a free throw from guard Miles Wentzien, but the Bearcats took a four-point 77-73 lead with 13 seconds left in the game. Guard Cole Clearman fired a three-pointer with nine seconds left to bring the score to 77-76, but SW Baptist held off the comeback and handed Western a 79-76 defeat.
Head coach Brett Weiberg knew that it would be a tough game, but he also felt that this is a game they should have won.
“We knew that it would be a competitive game and that, if we played well and competed the right way, we’d still have an opportunity to win and in some ways we felt like we should win,” Weiberg said.
Although the Griffons lost, they had three players score in double-digits, led by Sampson with 17, Byrd with 11 and forward Kevin Thomas with 10. Thomas was also close to a double-double with a team high eight rebound.
Thursday, Western traveled to Warrensburg, Missouri to face the No. 12 Central Missouri Mules and struggled to get their offense defense on track. The Mules opened the first half on fire, leading the Griffons 29-4. Western finally found an offensive and defensive footing, going on a 12-2 run and cutting the lead down to 15 with a 31-16 score. The Griffons could not gain any more ground before halftime and headed to the locker room down 20 with a 44-24 score.
The blowout first half came from a combination of the high-level of performance from the Mules and the low-level from the Griffons, according to Weiberg.
“Central Missouri played probably about as good as they could play in the first 10 to 12 minutes of the game and we played pretty bad,” Weiberg said. “Kind of the perfect storm of one team playing well and one team not playing well.”
Western still had trouble holding Central Missouri in the second half. The Griffons struggled to decrease the deficit, managing to only bring it down to 15 with 13 minutes left in the half. Central Missouri increased their lead again, but Western brought it back down to 15 before losing the game 74-59.
Even though Western lost, Weiberg believes that they should have had a chance to win, but took that chance away from themselves.
“Central Missouri is a good team, they’re going to win some games, [but] I don’t think Central Missouri is a great team,” Weiberg said. “They have their weaknesses, so going in their we felt like if we played decent we’d have a chance and, obviously, we didn’t give ourselves a chance.”
Despite the loss, four Griffons scored in double-digits, led by both Thomas and guard Aaron Emmanuel with 12 points, Sampson with 11 and forward Xavier Newson with 10. Emmanuel also recorded his second double-double of the season, racking up a team high 13 rebounds.
Both losses dropped Western’s overall record to 2-6, their conference record to 0-2 and increased their losing streak to four games. Currently, the Griffons sit at No. 13 in the conference, above only Northeastern State, who is 0-2 in the MIAA and 1-5 overall.
Western will face the Pittsburg State Gorillas in their first home conference game on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 7:30 p.m.