March 6, 2004
'Cats Hammer Mo. Western, Move Into Title Game
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - The Northwest Missouri State University men's basketball team defeated Missouri Western 87-65 Saturday night at the Sonic/MIAA Championships. The victory pushed the Bearcats into the MIAA Tournament championship for the sixth time in seven years.
Northwest grabbed an early 4-0 lead and never trailed. The Bearcats held a 15-12 advantage with 11:52 remaining in the first half. Byron Jackson (Jr., Phoenix, Ariz.) hit back-to-back buckets to spark an 8-0 run, giving Northwest a double-digit lead. Travis Garnder (Jr., Minneapolis, Minn.) hit a three-pointer with 2:26 remaining in the half, giving the 'Cats a 17-point advantage. The Bearcats led 37-24 at the intermission.
Missouri Western outscored Northwest 7-4 over the first two minutes of the second half, trying to climb back into the contest. But the Bearcats would have none of it. Sky Wilson (Jr., Indio, Calif.) hit a pair of free throws to push the 'Cat advantage to 12. It never got closer.
Another Gardner three-pointer with 11:44 remaining in the game gave Northwest a 17-point lead again, 56-39. Gardner's third and fourth three-pointers of the game each put Northwest up by 21. The latter gave the 'Cats a 73-52 edge with just 5:29 remaining. A Kelvin Parker (Sr., Raytown, Mo.) three-point play gave Northwest its largest lead, 78-54, with 4:26 to go.
The Bearcats then cruised to the 22-point victory, advancing to Sunday afternoon's Sonic/MIAA Tournament Championship game against Washburn.
Six Bearcats scored in double figures, led by Parker's 18. Gardner and Jackson each scored 14 points, while Jesse Shaw (Jr., Lincoln, Neb.) scored 13. Austin Meyer (Soph., Blue Springs, Mo.) scored 11 and Wilson tacked on 10. Shaw paced Northwest under the boards, pulling down eight rebounds.
Northwest converted more than 47 percent of its field-goal opportunities in the contest. The Bearcats shot nearly 58 percent (11-of-19) from three-point range.
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Phillip Dowden, Media Relations/Sports Information
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