Clarke's third double-double power Western women to 5-0; Men breeze past Hillcats to win 3rd straight

·3 min read

Dec. 3—Holding onto a nine-point lead with 15 minutes remaining in Thursday's MIAA opener, the Missouri Western women showed coach Candi Whitaker exactly what she'd been waiting to see.

From there, junior Connie Clarke scored 13 of Western's next 16 points, the lead eventually ballooned to as much as 32, as the Griffons were comfortably in control for a 83-58 home victory against Rogers State.

"We really talk about 40 minutes and just staying on it, staying the course, and at some point we hope the game breaks open," Whitaker said. "That's what happened today."

Clarke finished with a season-high 21 points and added 12 rebounds for her third double-double of the year. She's finished with double-digit rebounds in every game this season.

Included in that stretch was a span of nine-straight points by Clarke, who showcased her ability to put the game in her hands.

"I just got locked in, going with the flow," Clarke said. "I didn't even notice. ... (Coach) just wanted us to have confidence going into conference play. We always play like this, so it's kinda natural."

Western (5-0, 1-0 MIAA) led 34-23 at the half despite shooting just 31% from the field. Western benefited from 15 offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes while not allowing a point off a turnover or in the fast break.

"I loved the statsheet — offensive rebounds, assists, steals, keeping them off the line — just did not make shots," Whitaker said. "When this team makes shots, I think they can be really, really good. ... We can really put some points up."

The Griffons attempted 76 shots to the Hillcats' 53, finishing with a 21-5 edge on offensive rebounds. Three of Corbyn Cunnigham's seven rebounds came on offense as she added 12 points and six assists.

Jordan Cunningham added 16 points and six assists, chipping in a pair of made 3-pointers.

"I just knew how strong a game Connie was having, so it was look for other people, but when I'm open I'll shoot it," Jordan Cuningham said. "It's a big confidence thing to know even if I do shoot it, we're gonna have people rebounding it and will get a second chance."

Jaelyn Haggard made a trio of 3-pointers for 11 points. Western assisted on 25 of their 34 made field goals and committed just nine turnovers while Rogers State (4-3, 0-1) committed 18.

Western turns around to host Northeastern State (2-5) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Missouri Western men 68, Rogers State 52

The Griffons held the Hillcats to 34 points in the first 30 minutes Thursday, welcoming Q Mays back to the starting lineup with a team-high 12 points in a MIAA-opening win.

Mays was away from the team for both non-conference wins last week due to personal reasons. He returned with 12 points and six assists.

Reese Glover finished with 11 points, including two four-point plays on made 3-pointers while being fouled, sinking both subsequent free throws.

"I've never seen it. I've seen guys get four-point plays, but how many does he have in his career?," coach Will Martin said, noting his last year in the MIAA quarterfinals. "You can't teach that.

JaRon Thames finished with 11 points. Will Eames chipped in 10 points and 11 rebounds.

The Griffons (5-4, 1-0) held Rogers State (5-1, 0-1) to 32.7% shooting and without a made 3-pointer on 10 attempts.

Western will face Northeastern State at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.

Brandon Zenner can be reached at brandon.zenner@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NPNowZenner.

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