Missouri Western finished their regular season on Saturday with a close loss to Pitt State 68-66. The game came down to the final buzzer where the Gorillas were able to hold the Griffons after a putback in the paint with just half a second left.
The Griffons had a slow start and found themselves down 15-5 six minutes into the first quarter. With five offensive rebounds for the Gorillas and one for the Griffons in the first, Pitt State finished the quarter up 17-14 after Missouri Western shortened their lead.
Harper Schreiner and Pitt State started the second quarter on fire. The team held this momentum until they were up 29-18. Then Jordan Cunningham led Missouri Western six points and two defensive rebounds before Trinity Knapp gave the Griffins a 33-32 lead going into halftime.
In the third quarter, Pitt State went 4/8 from behind the arch while Missouri Western went 0/3.
The possessions were evenly distributed but the 2 to 3 pointer difference was a crucial factor.
“We were going two-by-two-by-two while they were going three-by-three,” said head coach Candi Whitaker.
Connie Clarke led the Griffons this game with 16 points, five rebounds and four steals. She and Brionna Budgetts dominated the 4th quarter combining for 16 points. Despite their efforts, Missouri Western lost at the final buzzer after a defensive rebound was snagged back by Pitt State and put up. The Gorillas won this game having zero bench points. Their starters' consistency on the court was the largest differentiator.
“We got to just not focus on what just happened, just move forward and focus on what’s next. I mean one game at a time,” said Clarke.
The Griffons know what to work on and are going to make sure they’ve done the proper scouting, and plan to bring more than enough energy to the post-se After a remarkable performance making it to the elite eight last year, Missouri Western has high hopes and are excited to start their post-season play.
“For the ones that was here, they know what it takes to get there,” said Clarke. “So I feel like we got to fight and just keep moving forward.”
Missouri Western will now play Fort Hays on Friday night. They are 1-1 this season. This game will begin the Griffons highly anticipated postseason.
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