Griffons defeat No. 1 ranked team in the country
Missouri Western men’s basketball got hot from 3 point range defeating No. 1 Missouri Southern University 75-67 at the MWSU field house. This was the first time in school history that Western has defeated a No. 1 ranked opponent.
“We knew what we had to do tonight and they came out and did it so it was enjoyable,” coach Tom Smith said. “Tonight we showed we can win.”
The Griffons improve to 6-3 on the season and 1-2 in MIAA play while Southern falls to 9-1 and 2-1 in conference play.
Western connected on 11-14 from 3 point territory and took control from the very beginning. The only lead Southern held was 2-0 and it was quickly erased as the Griffons got out to a 7-2 lead after James Harris hit a 3. The Griffons have struggled at the beginning of games at times this season but there was no lack of intensity right from the start tonight.
“You got the number one team in the country coming in so you got to be fired up about that game,” Deionta Mitchell said. “All day the team has been fired up.”
Harris lead all scorers with 26 points and added seven assists and four rebounds. Harris hit 5-for-6 from down town.
“It was just my night really,” Harris said. “They kept coming to me and I was knocking the shots down.”
Deionta Mitchell matched his career high of 14 points by shooting 4-for-6 from the field and 3-for-4 from long range including two 3′s in a row when it appeared Southern was ready to make a run, down 41-31. Mitchell pushed the Griffon lead up to 47-31.
“Tonight was probably the biggest win I have ever been a part of,” Mitchell said. “Coach let us know tonight if we played as hard as we could for 40 minutes we were going to win.”
Freshman Reed Mells shot 3-for-4, including 2-for-3 from 3 point distance. Mells went for a career high 10 points after scoring nine against Emporia State University last game.
Lavonte Douglas added nine points and six rebounds while Justin Reid showed off his hook shot, scoring six points. Those two combined with Shawn Tarver provided tough interior defense.
Southern leading scorer, 6-11 270 pound Keane Thomann, finished with 22 points but didn’t get his first points until he hit two free throws with the Griffon lead already at 21-6.
“He got himself going late,” Smith said. “He just wears at you is the problem you have with him because he is so strong and so big.”
Western utilized team defense in holding Southern to 28-for-67 shooting.
“It’s a family piece,” Harris said. “We are pushing to be one of the best defensive teams in the conference.”
The Griffons will look to knock off another ranked team on Saturday when it travels to Hays, Kansas to face No. 10 Fort Hays State University.