The Baker Orange

Wildcats edge past Evangel in opening round

Story by Sara

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The top-seeded Baker University women’s basketball team advanced to the second round of the Heart of America Athletic Conference tournament with a 64-54 victory over Evangel University on Thursday in Collins Center.

During the Wildcats’ opening possession, junior Kyrstie Ehm chipped in her first 3-pointer of the game, but this was just one of the many key shots the Towanda native would hit during the postseason matchup.

“Kyrstie is a very good shooter but she also has the ability to get to the rim,” head coach Ben Lister said. “She played well on all phases of the game … She’s really improved defensively. We’ve always known her scoring ability and that showed up tonight.”

Ehm led all scorers with 21 points. But while she found success, her teammates struggled to find a rhythm offensively in the first half. Baker opened the game on a 9-2 run, but Evangel would outscore the Wildcats 20-5 for the next nine minutes.

After heading to the locker room with a three-point halftime deficit, Baker used its ability to push the tempo to outscore the Crusaders by 13 in the second half.

“We’re so relentless at pushing the ball to the basket that in the second half I think we’ve worn teams down, and just physically, you could see Evangel wear down,” Lister said. “They don’t play a lot of kids and we kept attacking the rim … That’s just the style we play. “

Lister also believed the Wildcats had “another outstanding effort on the defensive end.” Baker held Evangel to less than 30 percent shooting from both field goal and 3-point range. The Crusaders’ leading scorer Allison Swanson also stumbled against the Wildcats , making just two shots from the field. BU sophomore Macy Wallisch, who is the HAAC Defensive Player of the Year, was tasked with guarding the 6-foot-3-inch center, who averages more than 16 points per game.

“Macy can guard anybody in our league in that position,” Lister said. “She makes it difficult for a lot of kids … That’s why she’s defensive player of the year and very deserving of it. She can take a clutch player and eliminate them from the equation, and that’s what she did tonight.”

The win not only advanced the Wildcats to the second round of the conference tournament but also marked BU’s 16th-straight win. Baker will look to make it 17 Saturday when it hosts Missouri Valley College at 7 p.m. Collins Center.

BU is 2-0 against Missouri Valley so far this season, most recently beating the Vikings 62-50 on Saturday. MVC received the fifth seed in the conference tournament after going 10-8 in league play.

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