Missouri Western makes history again as the 12-seeded Griffons (13-17) pull off another historical win (49-46) in the quarterfinals against number-four seed Central Oklahoma (22-7) last Thursday.
“We are a different team, and play a different style and do different things,” said coach Rob Edmisson. “When you get into tournament play and you can get into March, anything can happen.”
Western became the first 12 seed to ever win a MIAA quarterfinal game. The Griffons outscored UCO 29-25 in the second half. Manaia Timson gave two huge jumpers at the end of the third quarter to give the a one-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. The lead would extend to seven, but would be cut down to two with 1:31 seconds left. However, Melia Richardson would close the game out with a pair of free throws to put the game out of reach.
After the emotional win, associate head coach Roger Smith says he believed in the Griffons all along.
“You know, it’s crazy,” Smith said. “We said before the game you got to believe in miracles and you gotta believe good things can happen.”
Richardson scored a game high of 17 points.
“The game plan never changes, our coach is an amazing coach, and he gives us a game plan that can win any game if we just go execute,” Richardson said.
All Western guards played 40 minutes in this game (Richardson, Lentz and Timson). Savannah Lentz scored nine points from behind the arc. KeShara Scott also led the team with seven rebounds.
Defense has been the main strong point that works for Griffons. The Griffons held Melinda Murillo to 4-of-10 shooting and forced her into four turnovers. Central Oklahoma went 1-of-12 from the three-point range.
Unfortunately, the clock struck midnight on Western Saturday afternoon against the number nine-seeded Lindenwood, as they would lose 59-41 in the semi-finals. It was a though the team had ran out of gas; they did not score until four minutes into the game. The Griffons trailed by as many as 25 points and never led in the game against Lindenwood.
Western allowed 36 points in the first half, 23 in the second half, eight of 23 were in the fourth quarter. Lindenwood’s 59 points was 18 below their season average.
Seniors Cera Ledbetter and Savannah Lentz both had double digit scores in their final game as a Griffon.
Lentz gave her thoughts about her last game.
“I’d say this season is a rollercoaster, both emotional and physically,” Ledbetter said. “We put up a fight to get here and play the best we could. It’s bittersweet. We are all sad that it ended but we are happy at the same time that we had made it this far.”
Western ended the season 13-18, but with only two seniors leaving this season there is a lot of promise for next season.
“For our seniors especially, I am so glad they were able to experience the tournament again,” Edmisson said, “But for everyone else, the girls were expanded and kids played different positions and different styles. So now our team will be more equipped if someone says they are going to slow us down. We are used to that. But the big thing is that these hung together all year long and so their relationships are stronger.”
Western looks to a promising future as their three main players will return for the next season.