Missouri Western struck gold on gold rush night after defeating MIAA rival Washburn 81-80 in overtime.
The Griffons started off slow in the first minutes of the first half, letting the lead for the Ichabods reach 10 points. The Ichabods shot 48.6% from the field, 36.36% from the 3 point line and 66.67% from free throws in the first half alone. The Griffons were worry free though and soon cut the lead point for point and tied it up at 27. Redshirt sophomore Julius Dixon added 9 points and 3 rebounds for the Griffons and Junior Reese Glover went for 6 points, both shots being from deep three range. The Griffons would leave the first half leading the Ichabods 34-30.
The second half started off with bang, as we saw the lead change more than 4 times. Washburn kept it hot as their shooting percentage bumped up to 53.53% from the field. But Western was not going anywhere. Sophomore Taye Fields kept the energy going dishing out five assists, nine rebounds and 11 points for Missouri Western.
Within the last minutes of the second half, the Griffons came back from a 10 point deficit all the way down to just a one shot difference. Thanks to the dynamic duo of sophomore Zion Swader and junior JaRon Thames, they scored a combined 6 points and handed out 2 assists during this run. The Griffons made it known that this was their house and tied the game up 69-69 to end regulation.
Junior Will Eames started off overtime strong with a dunk giving Western all the momentum they needed. Washburn would continue to answer back and keep Western on their toes every second. With just 11 seconds remaining, Washburn had the lead by one point. Thames had no problem handling the last shot. Pulling up from mid range, he drained the two pointer with just two seconds left and ultimately giving Western the win.
“Get a win," said Thames. "That’s all I was thinking about is get a win. Whatever it takes, play hard. My teammates trust me to make plays. My coaches trust me to make plays, so I just thought about just winning the game.”
This win ended a six game losing streak for the Griffons and it was not only electric, but also one of the best statistical games for Griffons to date. Thames dropped 21 points and shot an unremarkable 9-10 from the field. The team as a whole also shot a 90.9% from the free throw line.
“My guys are fighting, they’re fighting,"Head Coach Will Martin said They’re fighting for each other. They’re fighting for Missouri Western.”
Martin added, “They believe in each other and they just continue to battle and so I’m just glad tonight that I can say my team continues to fight and they can actually experience a little bit of the success, but we got a long way to go.”
The Griffons look to continue this streak into their next game against Emporia State University on Saturday at Looney Complex.
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