The Baker Orange

No. 10 women begin conference play

Story by Jim Joyner, Sports Editor

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After losing its first regular season conference game to MidAmerica Nazarene University on Thursday night, the No. 10 women’s basketball team bounced back and defeated the No. 25 Central Methodist University Eagles 55-43 on Saturday at the Collins Center. The Wildcats improved to 7-4 overall and 1-1 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.

The Wildcats turned the ball over 22 times on Thursday compared to MidAmerica’s 9, an uncharacteristic statistic for the Baker women’s basketball team.

“We talked about that a lot at practice (Saturday). We talked about it a lot before the game today,” head coach Ben Lister said about turnovers, following Saturday’s win.

Against CMU, Lister’s team cut that number by 10.

“I made sure to make it a point of emphasis that Central Methodist in their pregame scouting report and their school’s website said we had a tendency to turn the ball over a ton,” Lister said.

The key in this game was field goal percentage and rebounding. Baker shot a poor 33 percent from the field, well below its 38 percent average on the season. But the more important number was Central Methodist’s 23 percent from the field and 15 percent from three-point range.

Baker was out-rebounded 45-42, but against Central Methodist that is a win. Coming in the Eagles were outrebounding opponents by nearly 20 boards a game. Junior Macy Wallisch and senior Rashida Simpson pulled down 9 and 7 rebounds, respectively.

Central Methodist ranks first in shooting in the conference at 48 percent. Even after an abysmal 3 of 20 from beyond the arc against Baker, the Eagles still hold the lead at 38 percent.

The Baker posts were faced with another tough task, stopping junior forward Taylor Cornelison. Earlier this season Cornelison made 17 of 18 shots in one game against Central Christian. This tied the NAIA record for field goals made in a single game.

Wallisch and Simpson completed the task of shutting Cornelison down and did so in grand fashion. The Eagles targeted the matchup early but did not come out successfully as Cornelison was 0 for 8 from the field and just 3 for 4 from the free throw line, finishing with 3 points and 6 rebounds.

Although Central Methodist had only two scorers with more than 4 points, the Wildcats had nine players with more than 4.

Freshman Caitlin Modesett finished the afternoon 3 of 7 from the field but knocked down both of her three-pointers to spark the Wildcat offense. Rashida Simpson finished right behind Modesett with 11 points, 3 of 4 from the field and 5 of 6 from the charity stripe.

Modesett had a rough night against MidAmerica with 2 points and 3 turnovers but responded well with a great game against CMU.

“Caitlin’s got a ton of potential,” Lister said, on Saturday. “She didn’t play very well against MidAmerica Nazarene but it was great to see her step up today and just bounce back and not let that bother her.”

The team’s leading scorer at 13 points per game, senior Kyrstie Ehm, scored 7 points in the first half but did not score again in the second half. Freshman Ebony Parker scored 5 points for the second consecutive game and is averaging 9.5 points per game.

Five other Wildcats scored 4 points in the game: Wallisch, juniors Ericka Simpson and Jami Hodge and seniors Haleigh Tenpenny and Angel Woods.

According to Lister, Saturday’s victory occurred because of a combination of things.

“We really locked in on ball security, making intelligent decisions, not rushing themselves and playing with some poise,” Lister said.

The Wildcats will be back in action at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 13, as they take on the Graceland University Yellow Jackets in Lamoni, Iowa. The Yellow Jackets are 3-6 and 1-1 in the conference after defeating the Missouri Valley Vikings 60-55 on Saturday.

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