Feb. 13, 2009
A Valentine's Day Treat on the Hardwood
Conference rivals Northwest Missouri State and Missouri Western square off in a Valentine's Day tussle Saturday at MWSU Fieldhouse in St. Joseph, Mo. Tip is 7:30 p.m.
The Griffons (11-12, 8-8 MIAA) can clinch their first MIAA tournament berth since 2006 with a win on their home court and ultimately sweep the Bearcats (10-12, 5-10) for the first time in 10 years. Missouri Western was 1-11 against Northwest since 2002 prior to a 66-63 win in Maryville back on Jan. 7.
It's nearly a must-win for Northwest, which currently stands one game behind Missouri Southern and 2.5 games behind the Griffons for the eighth and final spot in the tournament. The Bearcats next two opponents hold a combined record of 17-29 (.370). Their final three boast a mark of 54-15 (.783).
Northwest has just one road win this season, that being a 72-63 decision against lowly Truman on Jan. 10. The Bearcats are averaging 11 fewer points and shooting 11 percentage points lower in true road games.
Northwest is coming off a 75-72 home win against Pittsburg State last Saturday and has had a week to prepare for the Griffons due to the mid-week bye. Missouri Western, meanwhile, got just one point from leading scorer Dominique Thuston, but pulled out an 83-77 win on the road at Nebraska-Omaha Wednesday. Marcus Rhodes and Lonnel Johnson combined to score 44 points.
Rhodes had a team-high 17 points in the first meeting between Missouri Western and Northwest. The Griffons saw a 10-point, second-half lead dissolve down the stretch, but held the Bearcats scoreless in the final 97 seconds to earn the win.
Mike Larsen scored 15 points to lead Northwest against Missouri Western. Elijah Allen added 14 and Hunter Henry finished with 12 points and 10 boards.
Henry, the MIAA's top rebounder, has averaged 18.7 points and 9.3 rebounds in road games this season. He became the second player in program history with 1,500 career points and 750 career rebounds during last weekend's win against Pittsburg State.
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