Women crush No. 11 Benedictine 65-48


Story by Jim Joyner, Sports Editor

Playing their best game of the season, the Baker women knocked off the No. 11 Benedictine College Ravens 65-48 on Wednesday night in Baldwin City. The win pushed Baker to 14-4 overall and 8-3 through the first half of the Heart of America Athletic Conference basketball schedule.

Baker got a great start to rivalry week against Benedictine and MidAmerica Nazarene by dominating the Ravens from start to finish in the Collins Center. Baker scored 23 points in the first quarter without turning the ball over once. The Wildcats hit four of their first five 3-pointers to set the tempo.

In the second quarter Baker’s hot hands cooled for the moment and allowed Benedictine to cut the halftime deficit to 31-21. Junior Kelsey Larson scored 12 first-half points for Baker after missing a majority of Saturday’s win against Grand View due to foul trouble.

The second half started off well for Baker. Sophomore Sydney Buchel knocked down a three on the team’s first possession followed up by a three from senior Ericka Simpson. Simpson then hit a floater in the lane to put Baker up 39-21 as part of an 8-0 run to start the third quarter. After leading by as many as 22 points, the Wildcats led 48-32 at the end of the third quarter.

But the Ravens were not going down without a fight. Benedictine started the fourth quarter with fire and cut the deficit to 48-36. In one of the game’s most important possessions, the Ravens turned the ball over to senior Macy Wallisch at the top of the circle and Wallisch raced to the other end for the breakaway layup, taking away all of Benedictine’s momentum. The Wildcats then knocked down three after three to put the hammer down on the No. 11 team in the NAIA.

Simpson led the way for Baker with 17 points in nearly 34 minutes. Larson scored 15 points and dished out 3 assists. Buchel played her best game of her career with 11 points on 3-4 from downtown, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Senior Jamie Hodge also scored in double digits with 14 points and three steals.

Another key stat for Baker was shutting down senior Chayla Rutledge, last year’s Heart Conference Player of the Year. Rutledge scored nine points in the first half but was held scoreless in the second half, credit to the tough Baker defense that blocked six shots.

The Wildcats have now won four straight and look to continue this streak into the second half of the Heart schedule. Baker takes on the No. 8 MNU Pioneers at 2 p.m. on Saturday in Olathe with a chance to knock off two top-15 teams in the same week and avenge a 69-66 loss to the Pioneers earlier this season in Baldwin City.

A win would put Baker into second place in the Heart standings.