Wildcats win playoff opener 96-64

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Wildcats win playoff opener 96-64

Story by Sara

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During the regular season, the Baker University women’s basketball team defeated Peru State College by seven points in both of its matchups. However, the Wildcats exploded for a 96-64 victory over the Bobcats in the opening round of the Heart of America Athletic Conference Tournament Thursday, March 1, in Collins Center.

After the 32-point win, head coach Ben Lister is pleased with the team’s effort both offensively and defensively.

“I thought we did an outstanding job for 39 minutes tonight,” Lister said. “We’ll give them that one minute where they took it to us, but the rest of the game I thought we were in control and played both ends about as well as we’ve played all year.”

Within the opening two minutes, Baker rallied for a 7-0 run. The Bobcats were quick to respond, though, by scoring 11 unanswered points. However, the four-point margin would be PSC’s only lead of the night as the Wildcats took control for the remainder of the contest.

After realizing Peru State had one of the lowest 3-point shooting percentages in the conference, Lister set the Wildcats in a zone defense throughout the game forcing the Bobcats to take outside shots.

“We’ve been struggling to stop people lately, and it was nice to really put the clamps down on a team that has some athletes who can get to the rim,” Lister said. “We took away their strengths and did a pretty good job.”

While limiting PSC on one end of the floor, the Wildcats dominated on the other.

Senior Alisha Fanshier chipped in 20 points and five steals for BU, as the rest of the roster contributed at least five points. Starters BriAnna Garza, Shea Shoemaker and Rece Huddlin joined Fanshier in double figures, but the Wildcats also received help from the bench.

With less than nine minutes of playing time, Freshman Jami Hodge came in for eight points and two assists. Fellow freshman Macy Wallisch also pulled down a team high 12 rebounds.

Although the Wildcats are excited about advancing to the second round and grabbing their 20th win of the season, they know their work still not over.

“This is what we came here for, this is what we have been building toward,” Lister said. “Twenty wins in our second season here is tremendous, it’s a benchmark kind of win for the program.“

The Wildcats will now face top-seeded MidAmerica Nazarene University at 7 p.m. Saturday in Olathe.

Baker fell to the Pioneers 73-70 and 69-67 earlier in the season, but Lister is confident in how the Wildcats matchup against MNU’s roster.

“In both games, we’ve known that we can play with them talent-wise,” Lister said. “It’s just a matter of us coming out there and executing for 40 minutes.”