The Griffons continued to climb up the national rankings, reaching fifth in the country. Over semester break, they stayed perfect with a 17-0 record.
Western’s most recent victories came on the road against Washburn and No. 12 Emporia State.
The Griffon defense held strong in all four quarters and did not allow the Ichabods to tie or gain the lead throughout the game, leading to a 69-56 win for Western.
Although the lead was held throughout the entire game, it was not until the Griffons controlled the rebounds that head coach Rob Edmisson felt his team controlled the game.
“Once we got the boards under control, then the game got under control,” Edmisson said. “That was a great win to win there, so I was pleased with that game and our kids’s intensity that they brought to it.”
Next, the win streak was tested on the road against the Hornets in a tough game between two nationally ranked teams.
Western held onto a slim lead until halfway through the first quarter when Emporia’s Kelly Moten made a layup to give her team a one-point 9-8 lead. From there, the Hornets increased their lead over the Griffons to five points as the teams headed into the second quarter with a score of 15-10.
The second quarter held much of the same story, but in Western’s favor. The Griffons were able to fight back and take a one-point, 22-21 lead halfway through the quarter. The Hornets tied the game at 29 late in the quarter, but a couple late free throws made by guard Sarafina Handy gave Western a two-point, 31-29 lead going into halftime.
The Griffons kept their foot on the gas offensively, and defensively were able to slow the Hornets down enough to keep their lead through the second half. Western gained a ten-point, 73-63 lead late in the forth quarter and secured a 73-64 victory once time expired.
Guards LaQuinta Jefferson and Hand,y along with forward Mili Koyamainavure, lead Western in scoring with 19,16 and 12 points respectively. Defensively, guard Melia Richardson held the Hornets leading scorer Moten, who averages 16.8 points per game and just 2.3 turnovers per game, to only 12 points and forced her to commit seven turnovers.
Edmisson knows that both teams played tough, making the win even sweeter.
“It was just a high-level game from two good teams,” Edmisson said. “Both teams played well, we didn’t catch Emporia on a bad night and they didn’t catch us on a bad night, it was just a good game.”
With the Griffons sitting in sole possession of first place in the MIAA with a 17-0 overall record and an 11-0 conference record, as well as holding the No. 5 spot in the nation, Edmisson has his team treating this part of the season as if it’s the NCAA Tournament. Right now, they are treating Thursday’s match-up against No. 3 Fort Hays as if it’s the Sweet 16 in order to stay focused on the ultimate goal.
“You have to win six in a row when you get to the end of the season if you’re going to win a national championship,” Edmisson said. “I don’t know if that’s realistic, but that’s what we’re using as our guideline these next six games.”
While it may be unrealistic to discuss a national championship at this point in the season, the word special has been tossed around to describe this undefeated team. For many people, special may be the perfect word to pin to the Griffons, but Edmisson realizes it can easily be taken away.
“It’s so hard to define teams while you’re in the season. It’s so hard to stop and enjoy a part of it, especially when you have a couple big wins like that because specialness can get wiped out real quick,” Edmisson said. “You go on a three-game stretch this late and get beat on the road two or three times, or someone gets sick or injured and you drop from where you’re at, that special goes away real quick.”
A nationally ranked opponent will again test Western as they take on the No. 3 Fort Hays Tigers at home on Thursday, Ja.n 21 at 5:30 p.m.