The Baker Orange

Women’ basketball takes consecutive 20-point wins

Story by Jim Joyner, Sports Editor

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The women’s basketball team is back on track after two conference wins of at least 20 points this past week. The Wildcats defeated the Avila University Eagles 66-45 on Jan. 15 at the Collins Center and then rolled the Evangel University Crusaders 78-56 two days later in Springfield, Missouri.

The Wildcats are now 11-6, 4-3, and are in fourth place in the Heart of America Athletic Conference.

Avila

Baker’s big week started with a tough matchup against an underrated Avila team, which featured one of the conference’s best post players in senior Rebekah Capeder and one of the NAIA’s top three-point shooters in senior Michaela Brinkley. Capeder came in averaging 19 points per game and Brinkley was at 16 per contest.

In her second start of the season sophomore Kelsey Larson began the game off with a three-pointer from the corner and would finish with 5 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists.

Baker’s defense came out and dominated, forcing 25 Avila turnovers. Whenever Avila could get a shot off before the 30-second shot clock would expire, they were good at 39 percent. But they could not get many good shots off over the man-to-man defense from Baker.

The game was close at halftime as Baker only led 29-27. The second half was all Baker, as the Wildcats would outscore the Eagles 37-18.

Offensively and defensively senior Kyrstie Ehm was the spark. Ehm scored 14 points on 6-14 from the field and 2-8 from deep. Ehm’s defense is continuing to be sharp as well.

Junior Ericka Simpson also played a big game at point guard. Simpson scored 10 points on 4-6 shooting and 2-4 at the stripe.

The Wildcats shot 48 percent from the field in the second half and knocked in 4-10 three-pointers.

Senior Angel Woods continued to play well off the bench with 8 points and a team-high 6 rebounds.

Sophomore Mackenzie Cook was a part of the three-player platoon in stopping Capeder in the post along with senior Rashida Simpson and junior Macy Wallisch. Capeder scored 21 points but did so, for the most part, at the free throw line.

Offensively, Cook scored 7 points, while Rashida Simpson and Wallisch each had 2.

It was also a big day for the Baker guards; junior Jami Hodge and freshman Caitlin Modesett each scored 5 and freshman Ebony Parker had 6.

Evangel

Baker’s next test was another great post player in sophomore Allison Swanson of Evangel. Swanson was last season’s HAAC Freshman of the Year, an NAIA All-American, and was averaging 16 points per game in her last three.

The Crusaders and head coach Leon Neal came in at 4-9 on the season but 3-2 in the HAAC. Neal was looking for his 400th career victory at Evangel.

Wallisch, Rashida Simpson and Cook would be in for another tough game in the posts. All three got into foul trouble quickly and each had two fouls at halftime.

Baker led 31-30 at the break.

Once again Ehm was the spark in the second half. Ehm finished with 9 second half points and 18 in the game on 6-9 from the field and 5-5 at the line. This was Ehm’s fifth straight game in double figures.

Three other Wildcats finished in double digits as Baker ran away with the game. The Evangel defense could not stop Baker and the Wildcats nearly couldn’t miss.

The team shot 68 percent (17-25) from the field in the second half and was a perfect 4-4 from three-point range. Evangel had no answers for Jami Hodge, Rashida Simpson, or Kelsey Larson.

Hodge finished with 14 points and was a perfect 2-2 from three. Rashida Simpson scored 8 second half points and finished with 10, going 5-6 from the field while playing in foul trouble. Larson dominated down the stretch, scoring easy layups on three straight possessions. These three easy layups were not in transition but within the offense. Larson flat out burned her defender to the basket three straight times as she finished with 12 points on a perfect day shooting at 5-5 from the field and 2-2 at the line.

Evangel had the same problem Avila had against the Baker defense. The Crusaders could hardly get any shots up before the shot clock expired and were called for the violation five times. The Crusaders shot 35 percent in the second half and a rough 13 percent from three.

One week removed from a game in which Baker went 0-16 from three, the Wildcats shot 57 percent from the field and beyond the arc. A complete turnaround in just seven days.

Ericka Simpson also played well for Baker with 8 points and 2 assists and only 1 turnover. Woods came off the bench and scored 6 points with 5 rebounds and Caitlin Modesett had a big three-point play in the first half and an additional bucket to give her 5.

The 11-6, 4-3 Wildcats are back in winning form and return home on Thursday to take on the struggling 4-12, 1-6 Peru State College Bobcats. Peru State’s only win in conference play was over the first-place MidAmerica Nazarene Pioneers last Thursday so this game can’t be taken lightly.