Missouri Western head coach Brett Weiberg spoke last week about how his team must play two good halves in Maryville.
Weiberg was right, and the Griffons hung with the No. 19 ranked Bearcats for the first 25 minutes. It was at the 14-minute mark of the second half that Northwest was able to pull away, winning easily 75-56.
“It was a disappointing game for sure,” Weiberg said.
The Griffons only lead of the game came in the first two minutes, by striking first in the game. After that, the Bearcats took control. The biggest lead in the first half came at the two-minute mark when Northwest went up 11. Miles Wentzien and Kevin Thomas led Western with six points each in the first half and helped to keep the game within reach.
“They hit a couple of threes early,” Weiberg said. “But after that I thought we did okay defensively.”
Missouri Western came storming back in the first five minutes of the second half, making it a one-point game with 14:17 left in the game. The Bearcats then fired off five straight three point shots, going up 56-42. The Griffons were never able to get back in the game after that.
“They went on a run and put us in a hole we were never able to climb out of,” Weiberg said.
Western has relied heavily on the three-point shot throughout the year, but they struggled from beyond-the-arc in Maryville. The team shot 14 percent on Saturday, lowering their season average to 34 percent. The Griffons were strong inside though, scoring 36 of their 56 points in the paint. Western held the Bearcats to only 22 points in the paint, but allowed 13 three pointers.
“We competed for the most part,” Weiberg said. “We tried to stay in the game.”
Aaron Emmanuel led the Griffons with 16 points. Wentzien scored 11 and Thomas added 10. Defensively they slowed down the Bearcats’ leading scorer, Justin Pitts, holding him to just 14 points. It was Chris-Ebou Ndow that really hurt Western, scoring 26 points and hitting six three pointers.
The Griffons have two games left in the regular season. They will host Washburn University Wednesday night at the MWSU Fieldhouse. The tip-off is at 7:30. Western last played Washburn on Jan. 13, losing 78-67 in Topeka.
“We have to go back to work,” Weiberg said. “This is a team that can beat anyone in the league, but they can also lose to anyone.”
The Griffons will finish up conference play Saturday when the University of Central Missouri comes to town.
“We know how hard we have to play, but we have to play with some urgency,” Weiberg said.