It was a clear and straightforward gameplan for Missouri Western on Sunday, Feb. 18- beat Northwest in the Battle of Highway 71.
That plan came to fruition as the Griffons dispatched the Bearcats 75-59, never feeling threatened by their arch-rivals. With this win, Missouri Western’s all-time record against Northwest improves to 27-13.
From the opening tip inside the MWSU Fieldhouse, it was all Missouri Western as they came out attacking with ferocity. Connie Clarke got the momentum rolling early for her squad, scoring six points within two minutes. Abby Bala knocked down back-to-back threes.
“We came out with a great start against them,” Clarke said. “We focused on what had to do in this game, and the gameplan went well.”
That momentum continued into the second quarter for Missouri Western, as they went on an 11-0 run to increase their lead to 31-16. Brionna Budgetts capped off an extraordinary team performance by knocking down a layup through contact to get an and-one.
Missouri Western outscored their opponents 21-6 in the second quarter, going into halftime with a 39-20 lead.
Coming out of half-time, Missouri Western’s offensive flow seemed to have slowed down, as they only shot 38% from the field. Northwest took advantage of this as they knocked down their shots at a 45% clip thanks to Molly Hartnett going on a scoring clinic, scoring 11 points.
The Bearcats trimmed the Griffon's lead down to 13 and seemed poised to make a comeback in the fourth.
However, Trinity Knapp had other plans.
Knapp started the fourth quarter on fire, scoring the Griffon’s first six points, all coming on mid-range jumpers. Knapp then found a cutting Jordan Cunningham that sealed Missouri Western’s victory.
Knapp finished the game with 16 points, a team-high and spoke about what worked well against Northwest.
“Pushing the ball we love to run,” Knapp said. “We practice everyday fast tempo and that just shows in our game.”
Headcoach Candi Whitaker also praised Knapp in taking over the game when needed the most.
“Trinity’s courage to take shots when she was open when she and in rhythm and at a really critical time of the of the game, it was a great team win,” Whitaker said.
There are only two games left in the Griffon’s season with both of them at home they look to finish off strong. Next up for Missouri Western is Newman University on Feb. 22.
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