Baker not deterred by tough start

11/09/07

After three tough losses to start the season, the Baker women’s basketball team has found its identity as the season begins to develop.

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The Wildcats traveled to Hillsboro to compete against Tabor College in a nail-biting game. Head coach Susan Decker said the team led throughout most of the contest, but was unable to finish strong in the 73-70 loss.

“My first reaction is we let one slip away,” she said. “We had our opportunity to win one on the road. We led majority of the game, but we just didn’t finish it out. In a nutshell, I still say we did some good things, but we just were not doing them throughout an entire game to get a win.”

After just minutes into the second half, senior Allie Heinen, the team’s dominant post player, went down and suffered a knee injury to remove her from the rest of the game. Decker said many young players had to step up to fill in the remainder of the half.

“Without Allie, we played three freshmen post players the whole second half, so that itself tells you a lot,” she said.

Freshman Aubree Gustin, who has fought her way into the team’s starting lineup, carried the majority of the load. Gustin said the pressure of starting as a freshman has been difficult, but she has appreciated the support and willingness from her teammates.

“Since Allie got hurt, I had to step up and be the big post player,” she said. “I thought last night I did a lot better than this weekend. I thought we all did a lot better last night then we did this weekend.”

Four players for the ‘Cats had double figures in scoring. Junior Lauren Shufelberger led the team with 13 points, followed by Gustin who scored 12. Though only playing around 17 minutes, Heinen added 11 along with freshman Kaylee Murdock. Heinen and freshman Josey McDiffett led the team in rebounds, both grabbing six apiece.

The Wildcats also competed in the Hastings Classic Friday and Saturday, facing two top 10 ranked teams to begin the season. Baker lost to No. 9 ranked Dakota State University 82-55, and to No. 3 ranked Hastings College 68-51. Decker said facing two high caliber teams to start the season was a challenge for the team.

“Overall, there were some definite bright spots, definitely things we can build on and take from,” she said. “We played two really good teams to open our season and two teams that were in the top 10 in the country preseason, so it makes for a pretty big test right off the bat.”

Heinen started the year off on a positive note scoring 20 points in the first outing against Dakota State, while Gustin led the team with 10 rebounds.

Sophomore Tayler Stacks said she felt positive about the team’s performance in the tournament.

“I think we played well and I think our team chemistry is good,” she said. “I just think we have some things to build on.”

Stacks said she thinks the team will have no problems rebounding from a slow start to the season.

“I don’t think this 0-3 start is any indication on how this year is going to go, and I think since the team chemistry is so good we’ll be able to bounce back well,” she said.

The Wildcats will compete in the Ottawa Classic at 8 p.m. today against Ottawa University and at 6 p.m. Saturday against Park University.