By TOMMY REZAC
St. Joseph Post
Missouri Western women's basketball overcame a 15-point deficit and had an at times dominant fourth quarter, going up 67-59 with 58 seconds left.
Fort Hays State went on a 7-0 run in 41 seconds to get back to within a point in the closing seconds, and the Tigers had a chance at a tying layup in the closing seconds, but Katie Wagner's shot missed short and the Griffons (16-4, 11-3 MIAA) held off No. 15 Hays, 68-66, on Thursday night at the MWSU Fieldhouse in St. Joseph.
Missouri Western, now winners of six straight games, didn't have a lead in the game until there was 3:08 to go. The Griffons outscored the Tigers in the fourth quarter, 31-18, and shot 73.3% (11-of-15) in the final period.
Missouri Western trailed 48-37 when the fourth quarter began. Johnni Gonzalez got things started with a three-pointer to pull it to within 48-40 with 9:31 remaining.
Hays (16-4, 10-4 MIAA) pushed their lead back to nine with 6:01 to go, but then Jayme Jackson hit a three to get it back to two possessions.
Then, Gonzalez hit another triple to make it a 55-52 contest with 4:52 left. Hart's jumper with 3:08 to go put the Griffons ahead 58-57, and the Griffons never trailed after.
Connie Clarke led Missouri Western with 20 points and seven rebounds. Gonzalez had 12 points on a 4-of-4 performance from three.
Tiani Ellison had another key effort off the bench scoring 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting, marking seven straight games where she's scored in double figures.
Wagner led Hays with a game-high 30 points to go with 10 rebounds. Kate Dilsaver scored 12 off the bench, as Hays lost a game in St. Joseph for the first time since January 2020.
Missouri Western outrebounded Hays 37-29, and made 13-of-15 shots at the free throw line. The Griffons held the Tigers to 40 percent shooting (24-of-60), as their winning streak is now up to six games. The Griffons have also won eight straight at home and 11 of their last 12.
What's more, Missouri Western has scored a regular season sweep over Fort Hays State in women's basketball for the first time since the 2006-07 season.
Candi Whitaker interview
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Griffon men play hard defensively, but fall behind in loss to Hays
The Fort Hays State men's basketball team boasts the No. 1 scoring defense in NCAA Division II.
That defense was on display Thursday.
The Tigers turned Missouri Western over 16 times, held the Griffons to a 30.4% shooting effort and Hays scored a 55-40 win at the MWSU Fieldhouse on Thursday.
Hays, ranked No. 24 in the latest coaches' poll, had a season-low scoring effort, while simultaneously giving up the fewest amount of points in a single game this season.
It's also the fewest points scored by Missouri Western in a single game in the Will Martin era.
Missouri Western (14-6, 8-6 MIAA) held their own for the first 33 minutes, leading by as many six points in the first half, and only trailing 22-21 at halftime.
The Griffons got down nine early in the second half, but got it back to within four at 39-35 with 7:55 remaining.
But, a minute-and-a-half later, Hays was back up 46-35 with 6:17 to play. The Tigers led by double digits the rest of the way, and Hays outscored Western 33-19 in the second half.
The Tigers shot just 35.7% (20-of-56) in the game, but they were a solid 13-of-25 in the second half.
Missouri Western was held to 14-of-46 shooting in the game, and just 5-of-21 in the second half. Hays scored 24 points off of Missouri Western's 16 turnovers. The Tigers, meanwhile, had only seven giveaways.
The Griffons were held to 2-of-15 shooting from long range, and they also went 10-of-17 at the free throw line.
Taye Fields led Missouri Western with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Elijah Nnanabu led Hays with 15 points. Kaleb Hammeke added 10.
Hays has won four straight games and seven of their last eight. Missouri Western is now on a season-long three-game losing streak.
The Griffons stay home to face Nebraska-Kearney on Saturday. The women play at 1:30, the men follow at 3:30. Both games are on KFEQ Radio (680, 95.3, 680kfeq.com, KFEQ app) with coverage starting at 1 p.m.
Will Martin interview
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