The Baker Orange

Women’s basketball downs Graceland

Story by Jim Joyner, Sports Editor

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The women’s basketball team continues to keep itself in the Heart of America Athletic Conference race with an 80-64 win over the Graceland Yellow Jackets on Saturday in Collins Center. The win bumps the Wildcats up to 14-8 overall and 7-5 in the conference as they swept the Yellow Jackets on the season.

The Wildcats did not make it easy on themselves. Baker turned the basketball over 22 times compared to only 8 from Graceland. The key to the ‘Cats success was shooting and scoring; Baker shot 57 percent from the field and 11 different players scored.

For the second consecutive game, Baker’s success centered on senior Kyrstie Ehm and junior Macy Wallisch.

Ehm’s team-leading 17 points helped propel the Wildcats to victory. Ehm started the first half with 13 points on 3-7 from the field and 6-8 at the free throw line. Ehm finished the game with 6 assists for a career high.

Wallisch was once again a dominant presence. Wallisch, who was able to get to the basket often, scored 12 points on 5-9 shooting with 3 rebounds and 2 blocks. After not scoring against MidAmerica, Wallisch has averaged 12.5 points in her last two games.

Baker struggled early to get over the turnovers and trailed the Yellow Jackets 16-12 with 11 minutes to play in the first. Both teams exchanged baskets and turnovers, and the Wildcats took a 33-29 lead at the intermission.

Baker set the tempo in the first five minutes of the second half and went up by double digits, 48-38, with 15:15 to play after a wide-open three by junior Ericka Simpson. The Wildcats took the momentum and never looked back. The Wildcats’ largest lead peaked at 72-49 with 6:14 to play.

Ericka Simpson finished with 9 points, 4 rebounds and 3 assists with no turnovers. Senior Angel Woods scored all of her 8 points in the second half, including three straight baskets in the middle.

Junior Jami Hodge had the best play of the game. With 13:11 to play Wallisch turned the basketball over near half court. Graceland’s senior Kiara Cain stole the ball and passed up-court for a fast break for senior Jaynelle Johnson.

Seemingly all alone, Johnson slowed down to cruise in for the easy layup when, out of nowhere, Hodge rejected her shot from behind, sending the Collins Center crowd in an uproar. Hodge covered an extra 20 feet of ground to make the best hustle play of the season. Hodge finished with 7 points, 8 rebounds and one fantastic block.

Senior Avery Vogts came off the bench to provide a spark to the offense with 7 points on 2-2 from the field and 1-1 from downtown. Sophomore Kelsey Larson continued to succeed in the starting lineup by scoring 6 points and grabbing 4 rebounds. Sophomore Mackenzie Cook scored 5 points on a 5-6 afternoon at the charity stripe.

The 14-8, 7-5 Wildcats are now faced with a tough week. Baker looks to redeem two losses on Jan. 8 and 10 to the Benedictine College Ravens and the Culver-Stockton College Wildcats. Baker had its chances against the Ravens down the stretch but the BC’s Chayla Rutledge hit three threes to sink the Wildcats 77-73. Baker then fell two days later in Canton, Missouri, 57-55 in a game that Baker probably should have won.

Baker faces the first place 18-6, 11-1 Ravens at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday night in Atchison and the third place CSC Wildcats at 2 p.m. on Saturday in the Collins Center. This is a vital two-game stretch for Baker’s postseason chances.