By: Harry Loomis
With a loss on Friday and a win on Saturday, the Candi Whitaker era is officially underway.
Playing in the Hillyard Tip Off at the St. Joseph Civic Arena, the Griffons enjoyed a split decision. After dominating the first half on Friday against Concordia-St. Paul, things went south in the second half, as they fell 66-59. They were able to put two outstanding halves together Saturday, winning an action packed tilt with Minnesota Duluth by a score of 77-61.
The Griffons opened up on Friday with a great first half, going up 41-25, with a large part of that lead being that they only committed three turnovers. In the second half, that was not the case.
The Griffons coughed up 13 turnovers in the second half, with the Golden Bears scoring 18 points off them. The Griffons got outscored 41-18 in the second half, ultimately falling by seven. To make matters worse, the Griffons lost senior guard Anastacia Johnson to injury in the second half.
For the Griffons, Chris Wilson was the leading scorer collecting 14 points. Corbyn Cunningham added 13 points off the bench.
Taking on Minnesota Duluth on Saturday, Missouri Western got off to another great start in the first half. They went to the locker room at the half with a 34-20 lead. The game felt similar to the night before, but the Griffons were able to correct their mistakes and not let history repeat itself. Behind some dominant play from their forward, Wilson and Cunningham, the Griffons didn’t take their foot off the gas in the second and cruised to a dominant 77-61 victory over the Bulldogs, earning their first win on the season as well as the first in the Whtaker era.
Saturday really was the Wilson and Cunningham show, as they teamed up for 27 and 22 points respectively to carry the Griffons to victory.
Whitaker was very happy with the way her team battled back after Friday’s loss.
“I’m really proud of this team and their ability to come back from such a tough loss yesterday,” Whitaker said. “We come away from this tournament with a lot of belief in ourselves that we can compete and win games.”
Saturday’s game was a complete two half effort, which Whitaker credits to the team’s physicality.
“I thought we were more physical,” Whitaker said. “I thought we understood and valued the basketball tonight.”
The Griffons will return to the Looney Complex this weekend for a Friday night matchup with Southwest Baptist and a Sunday afternoon clash with St. Mary.