Western finishes top 10 in MIAA tournament

The Missouri Western Women’s Golf team finished fourth in the MIAA Championships. The Griffons had all five girls finish in the top 35 of the tournament. Freshman Shi Qing Ong finished tied for eighth in the tournament, shooting a 238. Ong’s best round was her final round, when she finished with a 73. Her score was the best of any golfer that round. Madison Romjue wasn’t far behind Ong, finishing 13th  in the tournament with a 244 in three rounds. Celine Lim finished with a 247 and Callie Wilson shot a 252. Coach Greg Dillon has been impressed with the way Ong has played all season. “You know I think that Shi Qing has a chance to win the Division II championship,” Dillon said. Lindenwood finished 12 strokes ahead of the Western for third place, but finished 10 strokes ahead of Central Missouri for fourth place. First place belonged to Northeastern State University, recording a 922. The second place team also reigns from Oklahoma. The Bronchos of Central Oklahoma recorded a score of 902. Baylee Price of Northeastern was the individual winner of the tournament. Price finished with a 219, giving the RiverHawk her fourth title of the season. Second place went to Central Missouri’s Elizabeth Leath. The women’s team will compete in the 2016 NCAA Central Super Regional in Axtell, Neb., May 2-4. “I believe the biggest challenge for us will be getting through that first weekend,” Dillon said. It is the women’s first trip to the tournament and their confidence is high that they can keep advancing in the tournament. “We just have to remember it’s one tournament, Dillon said. It’s a new season and opportunity for us.” The men’s golf team finished seventh in the men’s championship. Western recorded a 917 at Tiffany Greens Golf Club. “I thought we should have finished a little higher in the tournament," Dillon said. "We struggled early and the weather was really a factor.” The Griffon’s best score came from Corey Knight, recording a 223, good for 10th. Ryan Hand finished 22nd in the tourney with 229. Cole Roberts shot a 236 and Jakob Rudosky finished with a 237. “Ryan got behind early, but he battled back in the tournament,” Dillon said. Central Oklahoma won the tournament, swinging their way to an 882 team score. Lindenwood finished second, recording an 891 through three rounds. Blake Lammers of Lincoln was the individual winner, shooting a 210 through three rounds.

MIAA season championship secured

Tradition was revived as the Griffons brought home the first MIAA Regular Season Championship since 2002 after a pair of wins last week. Head coach Rob Edmisson was proud of how his team handled the high stress of the week. “I thought our kids just handled the week at a high level of focus and professionalism,” Edmisson said. “I was really impressed with what they did.” Championship week started at home against the Washburn Ichabods, Western previously defeated on the road 69-56. Neither team could gain a foothold in the first two quarters as they passed the lead back and fourth. In the first quarter the biggest lead, of just five points, was held by the Griffons but was cut down to a two point 20-18 lead at the end of the quarter. In the second quarter the Ichabods fought back and built up a 10 point lead late in the half. Western did not back down as they went on a quick 6-0 run to go into halftime behind Washburn 35-31. The Griffons came out on fire in the third quarter as they took a solid 11 point 54-43 while out scoring the Ichabods in the quarter 23-8. Once Western took the lead they never looked back as they went on to defeat Washburn 67-57, claiming at least a share of the MIAA Championship. Game two of championship week was also Senior Night, and all four seniors shined on their way to victory against the Central Missouri Jennies and an outright win of the MIAA Championship. “I think that teams that win championships have to have great senior play,” Edmisson said. “You have to rely on your older kids to get stuff done.” The Griffons were down throughout the first quarter as the Jennies took a 15-12 lead into the second quarter. Western battled back and claimed a 20-19 lead in the second quarter. Although Central Missouri tied the game during the quarter, the Griffons stacked on a lead and went into halftime up 35-29. In the third quarter the Griffons and Jennies went back and fourth for control but it was Western to took a 55-49 lead into the fourth. The Griffons stepped on the gas, never losing the lead but building a double-digit cushion on their way to a 77-61 win. All seniors scored in double digits, lead by LaQuinta Jefferson with 25, Mili Koyamainavure with 13, Mhykeah Baez with 11 and Sarafina Handy with 10. After the victories, Western heads into the MIAA Championship Tournament and enters a new atmosphere, explains Edmisson. “Tournament play is a completely different environment from any other game; we’re excited about it,” Edmisson said. The Griffons will head to Kansas City to face the Nebraska-Kearney Lopers in the first round of the MIAA Tournament on Thursday March 3 at 6 p.m.

Griffons play for share of MIAA title

After defeating the rival Northwest Bearcats last Saturday, the Griffons will play for a share of the MIAA title on Wednesday against the Washburn Ichabods. Although the Bearcats are last in the MIAA, the rivalry game between Northwest and Western was still a battle. The Griffons lost the lead only twice in the game, early in the first quarter and late in the second, but kept the Bearcats at bay the majority of the game. Northwest did not make it easy on Western, constantly cutting down double-digit leads and pulling closer to the Griffons. In the end Western held on to defeat the rivals 66-59, wrapping up their regular season road schedule and pushing their overall record to 24-2. Forward Mhykeah Baez led the Griffons in scoring and rebounds while posting a double double with 18 points and 12 rebounds. Guard LaQuinta Jefferson was second in scoring with 16 points, followed by forward Mili Koyamainavure with 12. Head coach Rob Edmisson has admired Baez’s play during the season. “She is special, and right now if we were giving out rewards she’d probably be our most improved player of the season, without a doubt,” Edmisson said. The win over Northwest tied the school record for most regular season wins in program history and it gives Western the opportunity to play for a share of the conference title when Washburn visits the Fieldhouse. “It’s championship week, with that comes a lot of understanding of where we’re at and what we’ve got to get it done,” Edmisson said. The Griffons will be facing an Ichabod team that they previously beat on the road 69-56, but Edmisson will not let his team take Washburn’s defense lightly. “They’re one of the toughest defensive teams in the conference, if not in the country,” Edmisson said. “It’s going to be a battle of the boards.” Washburn slightly out rebounds Western, averaging 39.5 rebounds per game while the Griffons average 35.9. Although winning would bring a share of the conference title to Western, Edmisson knows the team is focused on making it solely theirs. “Our kids aren’t in a sharing mood,” Edmisson said. “I keep saying one more [win] and they keep correcting me [with] no, it’s two more.” With the excitement of the situation comes mystery of how the Griffons will handle situation. With the season getting closer to a win and go home setting Edmisson hopes his team will play like they have all season. "All teams handle one and done differently," Edmisson said. "Some people can play in that environment, some kids can't and I don't know how this team is with that environment." Championship week tips off when the Washburn Ichabods enter the Fieldhouse on Wednesday Feb. 24. With a win against the Ichabods the Griffons will face Central Missouri with a chance to win the MIAA outright.

Griffons first in region

With the announcement of the NCAA DII regional rankings, Missouri Western is sitting in first place in the Central Region followed by Pittsburg State and Fort Hays State. The Griffons are 23-2 overall this season and are currently No. 7 in the nation. Western is also first in the MIAA with a 17-2 conference record.

Griffons reach new heights in Oklahoma

No. 7 Western completed the Oklahoma sweep as they defeated Northeastern State and Central Oklahoma last weekend. Head coach Rob Edmisson believes that long, late season road trips can show a lot about where your team is. “I think a late trip like that, you get a really good sense of where your kids are at with each other because they have to spend so much time with each other. My take on it showed some really positive things as I watched our kids spend quality time with each other,” Edmisson said. “This bunch is still really focused and still have a great purpose for what they’re trying to get done.” The Griffons pulled into Tahlequah, Oklahoma to face the 8-16 Northeastern State RiverHawks last Thursday. Previously, Western was pitted against Northeastern State at the Fieldhouse and won in a dominating fashion 88-49. This road game would be no different as the Griffons dismantled the RiverHawks 88-57. Senior LaQuinta Jefferson passed the 1,000-career point mark and led all scorers with 21 points off of 9-11 shooting, followed by senior Sarafina Handy who scored 16 points, including 4-5 three-pointers. As a team, the Griffons shot 69 percent from the field and 58 percent from beyond the arc. Next on the list was a date with the 16-8 Central Oklahoma Bronchos in Edmond, Oklahoma. Central Oklahoma kept the game close against Western earlier in the season in the Fieldhouse, but the Griffons were able to escape with an eight-point 77-69 victory. The Griffons took control of this game early and held on through the end. In the first quarter, Western piled on a commanding 21-6 lead, but would be outscored in the second quarter 14-18, to go into halftime with a 36-24 lead. Both teams were evenly matched in the second half, with the Griffons scoring 53 total points and the Bronchos scoring 54. Although Central Oklahoma narrowly outscored Western, it would not be enough to take the lead as the Griffons went on to win 88-78. It was a record day for Handy, as she made a career record six threes in the game and led the team with a career-high tying 26 points. Three other Griffons scored in double digits in Jefferson with 18, along with fellow seniors Mili Koyamainavure and Mhykeah Baez who scored 16 and 14 points respectively. Although multiple members on the team have been playing well, Edmisson knows that Handy has been playing on another level. “Right now, she’s the best player on our team in terms of efficiency and shot selection,” Edmisson said. “If she was on another team right now, she might be competing for player of the year in the conference herself.” With Western near the end of their schedule, Edmisson thinks there’s still another gear that the Griffons can tap into. “I don’t think we’re playing our best basketball, I think there’s still another level this team can reach, but whether we get there or not, I don’t know, but I still think there’s more in there,” Edmisson said. The Griffons face rival Northwest Missouri State on Saturday in Maryville to closeout the last home game of the regular season.