The Baker Orange

Women’s basketball loses two in a row

Story by Jim Joyner, Sports Editor

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For the first time since February 2013, the No. 21 women’s basketball team lost two consecutive conference games. Baker dropped to 9-6 on the season and 2-3 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.

Thursday

The Wildcats lost Thursday night in Collins Center to the Benedictine Ravens 77-73.

The game was back and forth the entire duration of the 40 minutes and was tied on eight different occasions. The Ravens took an early eight-point lead halfway through the first half that would be the largest lead for either team.

At halftime, the Ravens and Wildcats were tied 34-34. Junior Macy Wallisch was already near a double-double with 10 points and 8 rebounds and senior Kyrstie Ehm displayed a dominant performance with 10 points as well.

Both teams shot 35 percent from the field in the first half and were solid at the charity stripe, only missing two free throws apiece.

Both teams continued to go back and forth in the second half but Baker clawed out for the early lead in the final 20 minutes. Baker jumped out to its largest lead after an offensive rebound by Wallisch and a follow-up three by Ehm to push the score to 52-46.

But the Ravens struck back immediately with a three from freshman Jordan Closter to cut the Baker lead in half. Benedictine tied the game at 53 then junior Jordan Kramer hit a big three with 9:17 to go in the game to put the Ravens back on top 56-53.

Rutledge struck again against the Wildcats and hit another big three to move the lead back up to six. The game then turned into a shootout as junior Jami Hodge connected on a trifecta and junior Ericka Simpson drove to the basket, drew the foul, made the layup and the free throw for a three point play and a 64-61 deficit.

With 3:42 to go in the game and Baker trailing by three, senior Angel Woods drew a foul on a made layup and made the free throw for another old fashioned three-point play to tie the game at 66-all.

With Baker leading 68-66 with under three minutes to play, Rutledge took over the game. She made two free throws to tie, a three-pointer to take the lead, another three pointer to go up by four with 1:15 to go in the game, and finally a devastating layup in the paint with 29 seconds left and less than five seconds to go on the shot clock to help Benedictine take a 76-73 lead. Rutledge was an excellent 5-6 from three-point territory and finished with a game high 26 points.

Benedictine captured its fourth straight conference win to keep its undefeated mark of 4-0 and 11-5 season record.

The Wildcats had three scorers in double digits as Ehm finished with 17, Hodge had 16, and Wallisch finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. This was Wallisch’s second double-double of the season.

Senior Haleigh Tenpenny went 4-7 from the field, including 1-3 from three with a taped-up hand to finish with 9 points.

Saturday

Baker looked to avoid back-to-back losses when the team played at Culver-Stockton. Culver finished 4-22 the previous year and 1-17 in the HAAC. Culver’s only win was against MidAmerica Nazarene, which gave the Pioneers their second loss of the season, giving Baker the regular season conference championship.

But Culver came into this game at 10-3 and had four different scorers averaging in double digits.

Both teams were good early. After a fast break from senior Angel Woods, Baker led 15-7, the largest lead the team would have for the rest of the game.

Wallisch was playing with a sore back and was limited to just 12 minutes of action. This led to senior Rashida Simpson and sophomore Mackenzie Cook splitting 27 minutes down in the post. The two combined for 15 points in the game and were 6-10 from the field.

Baker led 33-30 at halftime. Baker also did not hit a single three pointer in the first 20 minutes. The team was shooting 33 percent from beyond the arc coming into the game.

The second half was a back-and-forth affair that featured five separate ties. Baker led 49-46 with 8:07 to play. Culver’s leading scorer Randi Lee Plunkett was great down the stretch with 14 points and was a dominant factor in Culver’s comeback. Guard TJ Hart, who also scored 14 points but was huge in keeping the game under control, also led Culver.

Hart went 1-2 from the stripe with 1:37 to play to put Culver up 55-51. Wallisch scored her only bucket of the game with 1:14 left to cut the lead to 2. Hart missed on the other end for Culver as the shot clock wound down and Ericka Simpson took the rebound coast to coast and scored the tying bucket with under 30 seconds to go.

Culver was holding for the final shot when Woods fouled Kati Davis of Culver with nine seconds left, putting Culver at the free-throw line. Davis went 2-2 at the stripe, finished the day 8-9 from the line, and Culver led 57-55.

Baker took the ball out of bounds from under its own basket with nine seconds left and handed the ball to Woods, who made it as far as half court before her pass was tipped and deflected into the backcourt and Culver held on to win.

Hodge and Ehm, the only two players in double figures, finished the game with 11 and 10 points respectively. Woods had 8 points along with 2 rebounds.

Baker finished 0-16 from three. Fortunately a 1-12 day for Culver in the same department kept Baker in the game. Baker was also 21-60 from the field at 35 percent and 13-18 from the stripe.

The reigning conference champions look to bounce back into the win department against the Avila Eagles, who feature the conference’s leading scorer in Rebekah Capeder at 19.4 per game and leading rebounder, with 10.2 per game. Baker won both meetings last season, but this will be a tough test for Baker to get back in the win column. The game will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday in the Collins Center.