(BIRMINGHAM, Al.) The Western Missouri women’s basketball team will play in the NCAA Division II Elite Eight Tournament.
The Griffons are named as the tournament’s 7 seed and will face 2 seed Grand Valley State on Monday, March 21 at 2:30 p.m. CST at the Birmingham CrossPlex.
This is the first Elite Eight appearance for the Griffons since 1995 under former head coach Jeff Mittie, who is the current head coach of the Kansas women’s basketball team. State University.
This is also the first Elite 8 appearance for Candi Whitaker, third-year HC of the Griffons (24-9).
Located in Allendale, Michigan, the Grand Valley State Lakers (30-2) defeated Walsh State 64-61 in the Midwest Regional Championship game to advance to the Elite 8.
The Griffons won 70-69 in the dying seconds of the game against Fort Hays State in Central Region to move forward.
The Lakers enter the quarterfinal game with the best scoring defense in the nation, allowing 49.8 points per game. On the other side of the ball, Missouri Western scores 74.8 points which ranks 23rd.
“We’re just an offensive transition team. So I think we just have to run and make saves and keep running in transition and make saves. I think we run, run them for 40 minutes, that’ll be enough,” said MWSU sophomore Connie Clarke, whose hometown is Birmingham.
The Griffons bring depth off the bench, a transitional attack and a confident shot to every game. During the Central Region, the West Bench scored 106 bench points and 53 against Southwest Oklahoma State in the quarterfinals.
Lakers will make inside shots difficult
“They’re a good team, they guard really well, they work hard defensively, they sort of defend the pack line, but it’s going to be hard for you to get to the edge,” the MWSU head coach said. , Candi Whitaker. “And they work really, really hard to stay ahead. They move their feet very well and can shoot them.
Grand Valley State’s top two shooters are Emily Spitzley (13.2 ppg) and Ellie Droste (12.2 ppg).
“Their two best scores are shooting in the low 40s of the arc so they can really make open shots for sure and they have a pretty good balance offense,” Whitaker said. “They throw it inside, they play inside out, dribble-drive motion, they really like to kick penetratingly, get people out and do open shots and they’ll set up screens as well.”
The Griffons are led by Connie Clarke (12.6 ppg, 29 total blocks and 8.5 rpg.), Brionna Budgetts (12.3 ppg and 46 3s on the year) and Corbyn Cunningham (12.3 ppg. 7 ,1 rpg.)
“I think for us it’s always been about staying true to who we are. What makes us good offensively is when we execute and get transition opportunities. We make good decisions and feel like we’re at our best offensively and then we have to keep, you know,” Whitaker said. “I challenged this team from the start. If they keep, I think they can win.
The winner will advance to the Final Four on Wednesday.