Nov 23, 2021 4:45 AM

Missouri Western women top Illinois-Springfield, Griffons off to 4-0 start

Posted Nov 23, 2021 4:45 AM
Missouri Western's Corbyn Cunningham (middle) goes up for two in the first half of the Griffons' 82-72 win over Illinois-Springfield on Monday at the MWSU Fieldhouse. Photo by Arianne Boma.
Missouri Western's Corbyn Cunningham (middle) goes up for two in the first half of the Griffons' 82-72 win over Illinois-Springfield on Monday at the MWSU Fieldhouse. Photo by Arianne Boma.

By TOMMY REZAC

St. Joseph Post 

The Missouri Western women's basketball team (4-0) delivered a dominant performance Monday in an 82-72 win over Illinois-Springfield at the MWSU Fieldhouse.

Corbyn Cunningham was one of five Griffons in double figures, adding 10 rebounds to her 21 points for her first double-double of the year. Connie Clarke notched her third straight double-double with 12 points and 15 rebounds, as MWSU moved to 4-0 for the first time since 2015-16.

"It was a great, great win," Missouri Western women's basketball coach Candi Whitaker said. "I think (Illinois-Springfield) is a really good team and they have some good players, some good athleticism. Good inside out.

"Again, super happy with the win. I love how we're sharing the basketball. I love how we have multiple people that can score it. I thought that Connie (Clarke) didn't necessarily have her best night, but was statistically fantastic in terms of 15 rebounds and 12 points. Her effort is just non-stop on the glass."

After a back-and-forth first half that featured four ties and eight lead changes, the Griffons built a 43-36 halftime lead and never trailed in the second half.

Missouri Western closed the third quarter on a 7-2 run, and opened the fourth on a 10-4 run, eventually leading 78-59 with 4:22 remaining.

Illinois-Springfield (4-1) closed the gap a bit, making it an 82-72 game with 1:40 remaining, but the Prairie Stars wouldn't score after that. Missouri Western shared the ball well with 18 assists, but 19 turnovers by the Griffons kept the game a bit closer than it should have been.

"I think if you take care of the basketball and don't allow that lead to diminish within a minute," Whitaker said, "it happened very quickly, we would probably have a better taste in our mouth. I mean, I'm going to take it. I'm super happy with the win. It was a great team win. We had a lot of people do a lot of great things."

Missouri Western held the Prairie Stars to 43.1 percent shooting (25-58) on the night while shooting 48.5 percent (32-66) themselves. The Griffons out-rebounded UIS 43-27, with a 13-5 edge on the offensive glass, contributing to 13 second chance points for MWSU.

Missouri Western was 8-of-20 from three, including Brionna Budgetts, who finished with 17 points on 3-of-5 shooting from deep. Jaelyn Haggard scored 12 points on 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc.

Jordan Cunningham was the fifth Griffon in double figures Monday with 10 points.

Missouri Western is next in action at home on Thursday, Dec. 2 to open MIAA play against Rogers State. Tip-off in that game is set for 5:30 p.m.

You can follow Tommy on Twitter @TommyKFEQ and St. Joseph Post @StJosephPost.