By: Morgan Doyle
A 20-minute second half wasn’t enough time for the Griffons, as they fell just a few points short of a comeback against Southwest Baptist.
Missouri Western was almost able to rally back from a 21-point deficit on Wednesday night, before falling short and losing to the Bearcats 71-79 in a conference matchup.
Both teams were 5-8 in the MIAA going into the night’s game, and competing for a spot in the MIAA tournament. But despite the competitive, back-and-forth atmosphere, the Griffons struggled to find their edge in the first half, and it hurt them in the long run.
“It’s bad because we preach everyday about energy and enthusiasm and we didn’t really bring that,” Senior Bryan Hudson said. “That’s what hurts us, is that we’ve got to wire ourselves to keep going, you know, get it started, and it shouldn’t be like that. We should bring our offense every single time.”
Hudson was Western’s leading scorer with 24 points. His team was outscored 43-29 going into halftime, and allowed SBU to shoot 56.7% from the field, compared to the Griffon’s 41.4%. Godfrey Rolle and Maris Colton each led the Bearcats with 22 points.
Coach Sundance Wicks believed his team’s slow start was because of their lack of effort and execution.
“They out-energized us, they out-toughed us, and it’s hard to coach on the sidelines when you don’t recognize your team… We got a little bit of hero-ball back tonight. We have to trust each other, that’s part of our program; we have to trust to make the right plays. I didn’t see one extra-pass play tonight. I saw a lot of guys trying to create and make plays for themselves. And when they do that… that’s just immature basketball. That’s basketball that could maybe happen early in the year, but not supposed to happen late in the year,” Wicks said.
The Griffons came out tougher in the second half and put up 42 points against the Bearcats. With under three minutes left to play, they were even able to get the game within three points.
“It’s big for us to know that in times like this that we can come together and buckle down on defense and trust each other a little bit on offense, but we need to come out stronger in the first half and come out stronger in the second half as well, so that we don’t have to rely on that,” Hudson said.
Despite a more aggressive second half, Western was only 21.1% from the three-point-line, and 68.8% on free throws throughout the game.
The Griffons, now ranked 10th in the conference, only have five more MIAA matchups to finish off their season and earn a spot in the MIAA tournament. They have an overall record of 11-14, and are 5-9 in the conference.
“For your program to grow, you’ve got to be put in pressure situations. Everybody knows that these next three games are really big games for us, so a lot of that will be handling the pressure and handling the expectations,” Wicks said. “If you want playoff basketball, you’ve got to have everything. We’ve got to be tougher and we’ve got to play with more energy, effort, and enthusiasm.”
The Griffons will get their chance to play tougher this Saturday, Feb. 16, when they play the Central Missouri Mules (12-11) at home.