Lonnel Johnson steals the ball at mid-court and converts the bucket with 10 seconds remaining in the first half sending Missouri Western (11-13) into the half leading 34-30 over Northwest Missouri State (11-12). However, it was not enough as the Bearcats finished off the Griff’s 79-66 at the MWSU Fieldhouse.
The Bearcats came out on fire to start the second half after Elijah Allen scored four straight points culminating in a 6-0 run and pulling ahead 42-39 with 16:09 remaining in the contest. Western fought back behind junior guard Marcus Rhodes’ team high 21 points. Rhodes was the only player scoring double figures for the Griffons while notable Dominique Thuston was only able to contribute five points.
“It is frustrating to have the game that I had tonight and still come up short as a team,” Rhodes said. “I really think we underestimated them when we came out to start the game.”
“I think maybe we need to let the game come to us more and not let the officiating affect the way we play. I think some of us were frustrated with the officiating and I really think it affected our play in the second half.”
The Griffons failed to convert free-throws down the stretch with a 7-15 performance in the second half to go along with a dismal 50 percent from the line for the game. While the Bearcats went 13-14 in the second half and converted 80 percent of there free-throws for the game.
“We turned the ball over way to much,” Western coach Tom Smith said. “When you go 2-23 from the 3-point line it will not get it done for you in this league.”
The Bearcats scored 24 points off of turnovers and had 30 points in the paint behind Hunter Henry who had a game high 25 points to go along with Allen’s 20 points. Henry shot 83 percent from the field, 80 percent from the free throw line and was perfect from beyond the arc. Northwest leads the storied rivalry 36-32 all time.
With this loss the Griffons fall to 8-9 in conference play and seventh place in the MIAA and the Bearcats improve to 6-10 and ninth place in the MIAA. The top eight teams in the MIAA qualify for the conference tournament to be held at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo. and will be played March 5-7.