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Western defends conference lead at home

The Griffons have lost two of three coming into this week’s slate of games. After a big win over Fort Hays State, Western failed to defend their home court against Nebraska-Kearny and then lost a close one to Pittsburg State. After that two-game skid, the team got back to their winning ways Saturday in Joplin against Missouri Southern, taking down the Lions 71-70, giving the team their first win at Southern since 2008. The Griffons swept the season series against Southern, going 2-0 and winning by a combined three points. The team was ranked No. 5 in the NCAA Division II Top 25, but after suffering two losses the team fell to No. 9 in the poll. “It was a good win for us coming off of two losses,” head coach Rob Edmisson said. This week the Griffons take on two teams sitting near the bottom of the MIAA standings. Thursday they will battle the Lindenwood Lions at 5:30 p.m. at the Fieldhouse. The Griffons last played Lindenwood on Dec. 18, winning 79-77. The Lions are led by junior guard Kassidy Gengenbacher. Gengenbacher is third in the MIAA, averaging 18.8 points per game. Senior forward Miliakere Koyamainavure believes the Lindenwood offense starts and ends with Gengenbacher. “I feel like if we can slow her down, the entire offense will breakdown,” Koymainavure said. The Griffons will counter with LaQuinta Jefferson and her MIAA leading 22.6 points per game. “Offensively, if we push the ball down in transition we can score a lot,” Koymainavure said. The Griffons will have Friday off before welcoming Lincoln University to the Fieldhouse at 3 p.m. on Saturday. The Griffons dominated Lincoln in their first game this year, 85-62 and will hope for the same kind of success this weekend. Lincoln will be coming in after a victory against Northeastern State and are led by junior guard Hunter Yoakum. Guard Chelsea Dewey knows that they will be in for a battle on Saturday. “They’re still battling for spots, just like we’re battling,” said Dewey. “We just got to grind it out.” The Griffons will need victories against both teams to keep their lead atop the MIAA, with Fort Hayes sitting within half a game of them. Fort Hays will also be at home this week with games against Central Missouri and Southwest Baptist. “Seven conference games left, everything is tightening up,” Edmisson said. “This time of year everyone is tired and sore.”

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