Reese Glover’s hot-hand gave the Griffons their most important win of the season.
The sophomore’s go-ahead three-pointer completed the comeback in the Griffons’ improbable 74-72 win over Nebraska-Kearney. On top of that, the Griffons will now host their first-round matchup in the MIAA Conference Championship on Wednesday.
Before the game came the Senior Day festivities, as Sam Siganos, Jonathan Mesmacque and Tony Chukwuemeke were honored with framed jerseys. Also recognized before the game was junior Tyrell Carroll, who became the seventh player in program history to reach 1,000 career points back on Dec. 8.
The Griffons grabbed an early lead, as Mesmacque scored the opening basket on a hook shot in the paint on the first possession. However, the lead didn't last. The Griffons struggled to hit shots while the Lopers came out on fire. Missouri Western shot just 12-33, while Nebraska-Kearney was 15-29. With such little production, the Griffons may have considered themselves lucky to go into halftime only down 39-31.
The second half started out the same way, as the Lopers stayed hot while the Griffons couldn’t get much going. Tyrell Carroll was doing everything in his power to keep the Griffons in the contest. The junior was driving to the lane, hitting threes and making his free throws. He had 12 of his 21 points in the first 10 minutes of the second, to go along with his seven boards and seven assists.
Head Coach Will Martin spoke about Carroll putting the team on his back like he’s done time and time again.
“We’ve talked all year that we wanted [Carroll] to take a leadership role for this team; and he’s really taken it,” Martin said. “It’s the intangibles that make him a great player instead of a good player.”
The momentum swings were in full effect in the game. The Griffons had a couple runs that got interrupted by a Lopers’ or TV Timeout; and then they’d fizzle back out. They needed someone to be able to break through and go on a run; and who else to answer the call but Glover?
After going 2-5 in the first half, Glover hit a corner three after a TV Timeout to make it a 63-60 game. Later on, Caleb Bennett got a pass off a rebound, spun around a defender and fought Glover, who stepped back and drilled another three to make it a one point game.
The Lopers called another timeout and scored on their next possession; but Alex John threw down a big two-handed dunk to keep it at a one point difference. The Griffons got it back and Glover buried another three from well beyond the arc to give the Griffons their first lead since 7-5. The lead wouldn’t last, as the Lopers would score four straight; and Carroll was fouled, but missed his second free throw making it 72-71 Lopers with 54 seconds left.
On the Lopers next possession, Glover stole and kicked it to Q Mays. Mays missed but the Griffons got the rebound; and Glover got the ball back and buried yet another three, making it 12 points in four minutes and a 74-72 Griffons lead.
Martin spoke about how much Glover has grown this season.
“I’m so proud of Reese for how much he’s grown mentally and psychologically,” Martin said. “You saw trust from teammates, giving him the ball and trusting that… we were going to hit Reese on the dagger.”
The Lopers tried to get a final shot; but it wouldn’t go and the Griffons held on for the win. Carroll’s 21 led the way, while Glover added 18. Bennett and John each added 12.
Moments after the game, Central Oklahoma defeated Missouri Southern. This means that the Griffons are the no. 3 seed for the conference tournament; and they will host Lincoln on Wednesday.
Glover explained how big hosting a tournament game is for the team.
“It just shows how much our team works and powers through everything,” Glover said. “We deserved it.”