The Missouri Western basketball team kicked off their 2022-2023 campaign with a thrilling 81-76 overtime win against Minnesota-Crookston. After two exhibition games against the University of Kentucky and Benedectine College, the team is officially back.

The Griffons were led offensively by Zion Swader, who came off the bench and notched 22 key points for the Griffons. 

“Zion hit five total threes last year and he was five for five tonight.” Head coach Will Martin said.

“He’s a kid that gets in the gym all the time. He does not care about his ego and was locked into the process all week.” 

The Griffons also had a key performance from newcomer Julius Dixon. The Morehead State transfer scored 17 points in his first regular season game with the team. 

“We love having Julius here, a big guard that can shoot the ball well.”  Swader said. 

“He brings great energy every single day. We love that kid and he’s going to be really good for us.”

Sophomore Taye Fields was the third other Griffon in double digits. He put down 12 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists.

Missouri Western went into the locker room at halftime with a solid nine point lead, but Minnesota-Crookston punched right back. Nine consecutive points for the Golden Eagles turned a 15 point second half lead for the Griffons into a tie game.

The Golden Eagles got key production for Blaize Sagna. With four seconds left, Sagna rose up and drilled a clutch game tying three-pointer. This shot sent the game into an extra frame. 

The Griffons stormed back and emphatically scored nine consecutive points to begin the overtime period. A Julius Dixon bucket set up by Taye Fields 21 seconds into overtime was the last lead change the game saw. 

The Griffons shot 40% from the floor while the Golden Eagles shot a solid 45% from the field. The three point line was the moneymaker for the Griffons. They shot at an outstanding 46% from beyond the arc. 

Missouri Western also had an edge in the free-throw department, shooting 59% compared to Minnesota-Crookston’s 47%. 

They will be heading to Shawnee, Oklahoma to face Oklahoma Baptist University on Nov 17. After the road game against Oklahoma Baptist, you can next see the Griffons at home against Rockhurst University on Tuesday Nov 22 at the MWSU field house. 

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