Last week, head coach Candice Whitaker stated that the Griffons women’s basketball team has been playing at a different level and that was shown yet again this week.
The Griffons defeated both Northwest Missouri State and Washburn University at home by more than twenty points for both final scores.
On the evening of Feb. 25 in the Looney Complex, students and faculty at Missouri Western got to witness a monumental moment. The Griffons went head to head with their rival team, the Bearcats, as they came out with the 77-49 victory which tallied up their 20th win for the first time since 2017.
The Griffons started with the lead, up 11 points after the first quarter with the help of a hot field goal and free-throw percentage, never tying scores or trailing for the entirety of the game. With 42 points in the paint and an almost 53% field goal percentage over Northwest’s 33%, the Griffons left the court with both a win and a standing ovation.
Though the Griffons were up 52-43 at the end of third quarter, the Bearcats scored 27 points — the most they scored throughout all quarters — to Missouri Western's 19, creating a chance for them to catch up fourth quarter, but the Griffons had plans of ringing the bell.
Missouri Western played hard in the fourth quarter, establishing a 19-2 run within the first six minutes, 25 by the very end, sealing the defeat against Northwest and breaking their four-game winning streak.
Whitaker is happy with her team's efforts and their level of play an believes they were prepared and played accordingly.
“They just came ready to go,” Whitaker, “They’re starting to understand the value and how hard they have to play defensively”.
The overall energy in the Looney Complex Tuesday night was a hype and an enjoyable environment for playing according to Anastacia Johnson.
“It was a fun atmosphere,” Johnson said. “I’m glad that our student section was live. It was a lot of fun to see everyone there and we gave them something to watch.”
After its win against rival Northwest Missouri State, Missouri Western took on Washburn University Saturday afternoon for the final regular season game in the MWSU Fieldhouse. The Griffons won 69-39.
Not only was this the final regular game of the season, but the final ball game in Looney for seniors Anastacia Johnson, Katrina Roenfeldt, Chris Wilson, Simone Walker, Kylee Williams and Tamia Cunigan.
The Griffons took lead in the first quarter 15-9, though both the Griffons and Ichabods began with a slow start having an almost four minute gap of missed shots and layups. In the second quarter, the Griffons were still ahead, scoring one more point than in the first quarter, going into halftime 31-20.
The Griffons continued to extend their lead and further widen the gap against Washburn throwing up 21 in third quarter alone. The Griffons were attentive on the defensive end having 18 points off turnovers and finished by outscoring Washburn by 10 in the fourth quarter to win.
Forty seven of the 69 points the Griffons had were given by the six seniors who got to leave the court together Saturday afternoon, filling the crowd with applause and loud cheers.
“It was pretty cool,” Williams said. “We just had fun and enjoyed each other so one last time walking off the court was really cool.”
Whitaker spoke a little about their contributions to the team this year and her happiness based on their success.
“When you have six great seniors that have done a ton for our team this year, you want them to have great memories when they reflect back on senior night,” Whitaker said. “Winning is a big part of that, so I’m really happy to get the win and happy that we are continuing to play at a high level.”
The Missouri Western women’s basketball team finished their regular season 21-7, earning the No. 6 seed in the MIAA Tournament. The Griffons will play the Lopers of Nebraska-Kearney on March 6, at 2:15 p.m. held at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri.