Griffons look for sweep versus Bearcats

The Griffons are looking to sweep the Northwest Bearcats in the next rivalry game. Last time the teams met, the Griffons got the best of the Bearcats, defeating them 58-37. The Griffons had an excellent first half putting up 42 points and holding the Bearcats to only 14. Since these two teams have met, the Griffons have won 1 of their last 2 games, with their previous win against Lindenwood. Sarafina Handy had a career night ending with 22 points and having 19 in the first half. The Bearcats have also won 1 of their last 2 games with their last win coming against Lincoln University. The Bearcats have an overall record of 8-16 and they are 4-11 in conference play. The Griffons have an overall record of 11-10 and are 6-9 in conference play. The Griffons were on a 3 game win streak but had it broken when they lost against Missouri Southern. Senior forward Friday Chuol felt that they came out with a lot of energy in the rivalry game. “We knew we had to be on our A-game because we are rivals and playing them on our home floor, we knew we had to protect our floor,” Chuol said. “Everyone on the team came out with great energy and we all fed off of each other leading us to the victory in the end. We have to come out with the same intensity we had at home at their place. ” The Griffons have been on a roll lately winning a lot more close games. The Griffons are looking to clinch their spot in the MIAA playoffs. They are No. 8 in the conference and there have already been 7 teams that have clinched their spot. Head coach Rob Edmisson realizes the importance of these last games. "These next four games are going to determine what happens for whether we get to play at home or not," Edmisson said. "Got a lot of work to do these next two games... we'll be ready to play." The Bearcats are also looking to clinch a spot in the playoffs. They are No. 12 in the conference and are looking for any way to create separation from the two teams below them.  

Griffons Enter the Lions’ Den

On Saturday, the Griffons will have a rematch with the Missouri Southern State Lions in Joplin, Missouri: the Lions' home turf. In their previous face-off, the Griffons defeated the lions 61-56. For most of the second half, the two teams were neck and neck, trading leads back and forth until there were two minutes left of the game. From there, Griffons lead the rest of the game by securing a five-point lead. Though the Griffons show a lot of home game success, the record they hold for away games could be a bit more satisfactory. The players make their feelings on the matter clear, giving short concrete answers, when questioned about it. “There’s nothing to be satisfied about…” Chelsea Dewey, guard, said. Guard Sarafina Handy shares mutual feelings on the aspect. “No, not at all,” Handy says. The feelings the players share concerning their record only shows how much they really care about not only the individual wins or losses, but the actual game itself. With each game played, the season moves closer and closer to its end. It would make sense if the Griffons decided to up their game in some way in order to take on the other teams who are likely to be just as determined. “We just need to play the way we have been... Play harder,” Dewey said. What Dewey says has some logic in it. Again, looking back on the Griffons’ record, you’ll see that they are 9-3 in home games. If they can manage the same play style during away games, Griffons will have eliminated their only real shortcoming. Handy felt similar about the team's overall performance. “We play well, I would just say to focus more and play harder,” Handy said. The final verdict seems to be just playing harder. If the Griffons can continue to play well and do what they set out to do, then there should be no problems down the line in future games. Head coach Rob Edmisson is excited about how the team is closing the regular season. "It's exciting how our team is playing," Edmisson said. "I think during the season you watch teams, and some teams play well early or play well in the middle. You hear coaches say all the time it's more important how you play at the end. I really think this team, right now, is playing well." If the Griffons defeat the Southern Lions on Saturday, their away game record will stand at 2-6 and it will be the second away game to be won in a row. Perhaps it will even signal a turnaround in the Griffons' away game success.

Jefferson adds commanding presence to Griffons

LaQuinta Jefferson is one of those all-around talents. She gives such a commanding presence on the court that it's no wonder she has several honors under her belt. "I've been playing basketball since I was eight years old," Jefferson said. Jefferson hails from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, where she attended La Vergne High School. She was a three-year starter for the LHS Wolverines. She was ranked the No. 64 high school prospect in the country for ESPN Hoop Gurlz for the Class of 2010. Jefferson was named as a Tennessee Sports Writers' Association All-State recipient in 2009. She averaged 17.1 points her junior season at La Vergne. "I love the competitiveness about it and I love to win," Jefferson said. She went on to attend Jefferson College. As a sophomore, she had a team-high 17.6 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 2.9 steals per game. The Lady Vikings went on to be 31-5 overall, including an appearance in the National Junior College Tournament and No. 7 national ranking. She helped clinch the Lady Vikings' playoff berth with a 38-point performance. At Jefferson College, she received NJCAA All-Tournament Team honors and was named to the Women's Basketball Coaches' Association Junior College All-American team. She was one of three finalists for WBCA National Junior College Player of the Year. Jefferson is now a junior transfer for Western, where she has been making an impact for the team since day one. Western held their exhibition game in November against the University of Missouri. Jefferson scored 40 points, which helped keep the Griffons in the game against the Tigers. Since that first game, she has started all but one game. She repeated her 40-point performance at Nebraska-Kearney. Jefferson is averaging 20.2 points per game and has accumulated 363 total so far this season. She's averaging 3.5 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Before she heads onto the court, Jefferson doesn't necessarily put herself into any mindset. She just want to play like LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant. "I try to go in Kobe-mode," Jefferson said. "I don't really know how to explain it, because, he's just my favorite player. I try to play like him." Head coach Rob Edmisson knows that she's a great player, but he's aware that she has lots of improving left to do. "She's got to learn to defend and rebound better," Edmisson said. "Once she does that, then she'll become a complete player. She's got one end of the floor mastered, but until you master both ends of the floor, you're not a great player. KD [Kevin Durant] and Kobe, they're great on both ends." In her spare time, Jefferson loves to play music. She can play bass, guitar and drums. "I actually play music," Jefferson said. "My family is musical. [We're] sporty and musical put together."

Griffons hold off Lions

The Griffon women's basketball team pulled out a win against the No. 4 team in the conference: the Missouri Southern Lions. Western is now 8-8 overall and 3-7 in the MIAA. Missouri Southern dropped to 12-5 overall and 6-4 in the conference. Coming into the game, the Lions were on a 4-game win streak with their recent win coming against the Northwest Bearcats. Going into the game, coach Rob Edmisson felt that they matched up with the lions well. “Size wise, we match up with them well.” Edmisson said. “We’re just going to have to play with high level confidence and energy.” Coach Edmisson also says that his team has been doing a great job rebounding and is averaging 17 more points a game than last year. He feels that they have room for improvement on the defensive end. “We have a plus 8 rebounding advantage over teams, which we aren’t a very big team.” Edmisson said. “Offensively, we are averaging about 17 more points per game than we did last year. Where we have to get better at is consistently getting defensive stops. If our defense gets better I think that’s what will determine the close games.” Senior Tiara Hall felt they played better team defense and multiple players got going on the offensive end. “We played better team defense,” Hall said. “And offensively, multiple players scored instead of allowing one person to be an offensive threat.” The Griffons held the Lions to 33 percent from the field and six percent from long range. LaQuinta Jefferson led the team with 17 points, shooting 5-11 from the field. Chelsea Dewey put in 11 points and Hall finished with 10, shooting 5-10 from the field. Western has proved that they can compete with anyone in the conference, but throughout the season they have struggled to win close games. Coach Edmisson says that they have to win a close game so that they know what to do when a close game presents itself. “It’s a tough thing,” Edmission said. “Because until you win one of those close games, it’s hard to tell your team in a timeout with a minute left and you’re tied, that we know what to do in these situations. It’s been frustrating because we’ve proved that we can play with the top teams in the country.” Hall says they will use the close games as motivation. “It just motivates us more which will result in us not only keeping the game close but we will finish the games and hopefully come out with wins,” Hall said. The Griffons will face off against the Lincoln University Blue Tigers with an overall record of 7-9 and conference record of 2-8. They are coming off a win against Southwest Baptist. The game will be held at Lincoln University.

Western pursues first road victory

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After a close 61-56 home victory over the Missouri Southern Lions, the Griffons will have the opportunity to win their first away game of the season in Jefferson City, Missouri, as they face the Lincoln University Blue Tigers. Western has been successful at home this season, compiling seven wins and just three losses, but a victory on the road has eluded them after their first five away games. Head coach Rob Edmisson knows that his team is no stranger to tough competition this season. “Through 16 games our program has the No. 1 ranked strength of schedule in the country,” Edmisson said. “It says a lot about the type of teams we have to play night in and night out.” Both teams have ground to make up in the conference with the Griffons sitting at No. 10 with a 3-7 MIAA record and an 8-8 overall record, while the Blue Tigers are No. 13 in the MIAA with a 2-8 conference record and are 7-9 overall. The schedule is rough, but Griffon guard Chelsea Dewey realizes there is still work to be done. “The win [over Southern] carried a lot of momentum but we cannot be satisfied,” Dewey said. “We have to keep building and get stops on defense.” The Blue Tigers will be in the middle of a three game home stand when they play the Griffons and they have been enjoying their own home success as well with a 4-3 home record. To attain their road win, Western will attempt to minimize turnovers while relying on guard LaQuinta Jefferson, who averages 21.2 points per game, to lead their offense. On defense, the Griffons will look towards forward Mhykeah Baez and guard Miliakere Koyamainavure who are tied for first on the team in rebounds with 85. Lincoln University will utilize the offensive talent of Hunter Yoakum who leads their team in points with 188 and three-point percentage with 40 percent. Defensively Lizzie Nessling will attempt to control the glass as she leads the team with 99 rebounds. Although a win over the Blue Tigers would give the Griffons their first road win of the season, forward Tiara Hall explains that every game is important at this point in the season. “Right now every game we have left is really important to get where we are trying to go in the season,” Hall said. “We are not trying to just finish with the games that are set on the schedule, we are trying to go past that so every game is going to be important.” The Griffons continue their end-of-season push towards the MIAA tournament against the Lincoln University Blue Tigers in Jefferson City, Missouri, on Jan. 29 at 7:30 p.m.