Women’s basketball team wins season openers

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Women’s basketball team wins season openers

Story by Megan Henry

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The women’s basketball team pulled off two close wins in the Baker Classic on Friday and Saturday. The first game against Tabor College ended 96-90 in overtime, and the second game against Southwestern College finished 74-72.

Senior BriAnna Garza was named the first Heart of America Athletic Conference Player of the Week for the season. Garza averaged 17.5 points in the season-opening games, made 50 percent of her shots on the court (11 of 22) and sank nine of 13 free throws.

“I haven’t received an award other than all-conference since I’ve been in college,” Garza said. “This year I’ve been emphasizing getting in the gym every day, so it’s really great to see the results of putting in extra work translate to my game.”

As a point guard, Garza is focused on creating opportunities for her teammates to score. However, she recognizes there are times when she has to step up and take a scoring role. She thinks the Tabor game was one of those times.

“It was a tough win. They are a great team that will probably finish in the top of their conference, so having our first win be against a tough team was really good for our team as a whole,” Garza said. “I’ve been putting in a lot of extra work in the gym as far as my shooting goes, so I’ve been feeling a lot more confident in my shooting ability, and that definitely paid off against Tabor.”

In the season opener, Garza finished with 21 points, including the 35-foot shot to force the game into overtime. She also added four rebounds and four assists.

Head coach Ben Lister said he was proud of his players for coming off a tough overtime game to play the next day against a team that was voted as the pre-season favorite in its conference.

“It was probably tough on all of us to recover emotionally (after the Tabor game),” Lister said. “And I think that showed up in the way we played first half. Eventually we were able to move on and pull together in time to get a second victory that was also really close.”

In the Southwestern game, junior Kyrsti Ehm finished with 21 points, senior Shea Shoemaker made the winning two-point shot and freshman Sydney Buchel recorded 13 rebounds.

“Overall I think I had a decent game,” Buchel said. “I struggled offensively and missed a lot of shots, but thankfully my other teammates were able to score the ball. (Since) I was having a hard time on offense just meant I worked 10 times harder on defense and rebounding.”

The Wildcats will return to Baldwin City for home games against Ottawa and the University of Saint Mary on Nov. 15-16.