In spite of everything that they have had to deal with this season, the 12 seeded Griffons shocked the number five seed Nebraska-Kearney Lopers in the biggest upset in the history of the MIAA Tournament.
Coach Rob Edmisson is very proud of his team not backing down against a team they had previously lost to.
“To get to this point of the year and go on the road and beat a higher seeded team, do something that no one has ever done in the conference, I mean I’m really excited for the kids,” Edmisson said. “It’s a really neat thing.”
With this win, Western snaps a six-game losing streak, and acquires a much needed win on the road. This is just the second time this season the Griffons have won on the road and it is the first time against a conference opponent.
Western has had the game plan and the defense for much of this season, but everything else could not fall into place. This time was different. Western outscored Nebraska 21-13 in the fourth quarter. They were down by seven with 6:53 left.
However, the Griffons kept on coming as they went on an 8-0 run to take the lead with 4:50 left. The Lopers took the lead again, but Western returned for the victory as they outscored them 8-3 in the final 3:33.
Edmission is excited for his team for winning this game after all the adversity.
“I am excited for the kids more than anything because our players have had to fight through so much adversity such as injuries and illness,” Edmisson said. “We just haven’t got to compete as a complete team for most of the year. Our kids have done such a tremendous job with just battling through all that.”
This is the team’s first postseason win since defeating Nebraska-Kearney in the MIAA quarterfinals in 2016. Freshman guard Manaia Timson dropped 20 points on the Lopers, led all scorers and topped her previous career high of 11 points. Timson was 5-of-8 from the field and 3-of-4 from the three-point range.
Timson hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final 15 seconds to seal the victory.
“It just really felt good helping out the team,” Timson said. “Coach has really been trying hard to push me.”
The offense really kicked in as two other players, Melia Richardson and Savannah Lentz, also scored in the double digits. Dossou Ndiaye scored nine points and pulled down nine rebounds. Cera Ledbetter and KeShara Scott also had eight rebounds each.
This was the biggest win of the season in Richardson’s opinion.
“The previous two years we’ve made the tournament pretty easily, but this year with all the adversity that we’ve had to face, I think it means that much more,” Richardson said.
The Griffons travel Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium for a rematch with four seed Central Oklahoma on Thursday. Last time they faced off, Western beat UCO 71-59.