The Missouri Western men’s basketball team capped off their busy week with an exciting overtime win at home against the Pitt State Gorillas. With the 95-87 win, the Griffons improve to 4-7 in the MIAA and 10-12 overall, just 2 games away from the .500 mark.
The past 2 games the Griffons have improved their first half shooting, shooting a little above 40 percent, and that continued tonight against the Gorillas. The Griffons came out shooting 44.4 percent from the field and 42.8 from beyond the 3 point line. The Griffons good shooting in the first half put them in excellent positioning ending the first half with a 43-29 lead with just 1:28 left.
That 18-1 run also came from a huge putback dunk by senior Alex Martin who finished with 8 points and 7 rebounds.
“Highlight plays like that always give our team that spark that we need,” junior Beau Baker said. “No matter who it is, we love to see our team make those kind of plays. We love each other so much we want to see everyone eat.”
In the second half, the Griffons continued their good shooting, but allowed Pitt State to fight their way back into the game cutting the lead back down to one with 16:03 left in the game. A lot of that comeback can be credited to Pitt State guard Grant Lozoya who finished the game with 35 points and 6 rebounds.
The Griffons kept the lead throughout the second half until the final 48 seconds with a steal and a layup by Lozoya to tie the game and force OT.
“Bonus basketball is fun. Let’s give them five more free minutes of what people came here to see,” coach Sundance Wicks said. “We have to trust each other and play with a great love, and that’s what they did and were able to make the plays down the stretch.”
The Griffons were able to come out with the win in OT with a huge help coming from the line as they went 11/14 and hit a pair of clutch 3s to seal the game. Lavon Hightower continued his fantastic play tonight going for 33 points and 11 rebounds on 11-20 shooting.
Hightower has become the Griffons go-to guy for games now as he has proved the entire season he is ready to take on that roll.
“We want Lavon to be the guy in our program that goes for it every night,” Wicks said. “Sometimes late he wants to be the team guy that gets his teammates involved, and I just told him stop it! We want you to be the guy with the ball in his hands and trust him that he’s going to make the right play.” Senior Bryan Hudson had another big game with 20 points and 3 rebounds, along with freshman point guard Tyrell Carroll who added 14 points and 6 rebounds.
“I’m really proud of our guys. To come in and put up a good fight against Pitt State, one of the top teams in the conference, is a huge win for my guys,” Wicks said.
The Griffons got a huge home win which they very much needed being only 2-7 at the MWSU Fieldhouse. The Griffons have a chance to continue this win streak Thursday, Feb. 7 on the road against The University of Lincoln Nebraska.