The Baker Orange

Wallisch’s triple-double leads Baker past Avila

Story by Jim Joyner, Sports Editor

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After turning the ball over 25 times in their 65-54 loss to MidAmerica Nazarene on Saturday, the Wildcats responded with a 65-39 win over the Avila Eagles on Wednesday night in the Collins Center. Senior Macy Wallisch led the Wildcats with her first career triple-double, scoring 10 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking 11 shots.

Wallisch broke her own school record for blocks and recorded Baker’s first triple-double under head coach Ben Lister.

The first quarter started off almost perfectly for Baker. The women jumped out to an 11-2 lead and looked to be cruising against the Eagles. But Avila took advantage of the Wildcat turnovers and made Baker pay in the lane with sophomore Raven Bunn. Even while playing against Wallisch and her seven first-half blocks, Bunn was still able to score 13 points in the first two quarters, going 6-15 from the field. At the end of the first quarter, Baker led 15-10.

Even though the Eagles only had three wins coming in, they weren’t going to give up easily. Avila maintained the pressure on the defensive end and forced 11 Baker turnovers in the first half. The Wildcats turned the ball over 25 times against MNU on Saturday and couldn’t shake that part of their offense for the fifth consecutive quarter. A late 3-pointer put Avila up 28-26 at halftime with all of the momentum in the way of the Eagles.

The game was completely different after a trip to the locker room for the Wildcats. Baker took control of the game by not turning the ball over and played off junior Kelsey Larson’s hot hand. Larson knocked down the third quarter’s first basket and the Wildcats never trailed again. Senior Ericka Simpson also began to heat up as she found her rhythm from the floor. At the end of the third quarter, Baker held a commanding 47-36 lead.

The fourth quarter was dominated by the Wildcat defense. Baker started the final quarter on an 18-0 run, shutting out the Eagles offense. Avila finally broke the fourth quarter shutout with the game’s last made basket, a desperation 3-pointer. The Wildcats did everything right in the second half, and the Eagles didn’t do anything right in the second half.

Larson finished the game with 17 points and knocked down all of her five trifectas, and Simpson finished with 10 points. Simpson has scored in double digits in seven of the team’s nine games after the winter break.

Sophomore Caitlin Modesett returned Saturday after missing three weeks because of a hand injury. She only scored three points at MNU but looked much more comfortable on Wednesday night. Modesett scored 8 points and hit two 3-pointers, both coming in big moments in the second half.

Freshman Jess Zweifel played well off the bench, scoring 7 points by knocking down all four free throws and a clutch trifecta. Zweifel also dished out two assists in her 13 minutes.

The Wildcats, most importantly, overcame the turnover bug and only coughed the basketball up three times in the second half. Baker also hit 17-20 free throws after missing nine against the Pioneers on Saturday. Those two things have hurt Baker the most this season, and the Wildcats executed well in both departments in the second half.

The Wildcats have now won five of their last six games and sit at 15-5 overall, 9-4 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference. Baker is now tied for fourth with Culver-Stockton in the conference standings.

The Wildcats take on the Missouri Valley Vikings on Saturday in Marshall, Missouri. Baker beat Missouri Valley 78-61 on Dec. 5 in Baldwin City.

With four conference losses, every game is vital throughout the remainder of the season.

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