The Baker Orange

Women win 20th game for fourth straight season

Story by Jim Joyner, Sports Editor

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The Baker women cruised to their 20th win of the season in a 77-53 thrashing of the Grand View Vikings on Saturday afternoon in the Collins Center. This is the fourth straight season the women have won 20 or more games, which is a school record.

After only scoring two points in the Wildcats’ 51-48 loss to Benedictine on Wednesday night, junior Kelsey Larson scored a career-high 20 points. Larson, a 48 percent 3-point shooter, went 4-6 from beyond the arc and made the Vikings pay for giving her space to shoot.

The Vikings kept things close in the first quarter, but the Wildcats dominated from the second quarter to the final whistle. An 11-0 run, propelled by back-to-back-to-back trifectas from senior Jami Hodge and two from Larson, pushed this game wide open at 29-14. At the half Baker led Grand View 36-21.

The Vikings were without their point guard, senior Taylor Nashert. Nashert led the country in assists last season and held the top spot going into Saturday’s game at 6.7 per game. Her presence was missed as Grand View only had five team assists.

Grand View did use junior Maddie Westergard to its advantage. Westergard and senior Macy Wallisch matched up in the posts for the majority of the game in a battle of the conference’s top shot-blockers. Although Westergard finished the game with 19 points, Wallisch and sophomore Courtney Hoag forced her to shoot 7-18 from the floor. Wallisch finished with seven blocks and now has 84 rejections on the season. Westergard is right behind her with 78.

In the third quarter Baker allowed Grand View to get back within nine points, but later Baker opened up the fourth quarter with a 7-0 run and ran the Vikings out of the gym. The Wildcats led by as many as 27 points in the final minutes and won their 20th game of the season and sixth of their last eight.

Sophomore Sydney Buchel, after leading Baker with 15 points at Benedictine on Wednesday, scored 11 points on the afternoon. Wallisch and senior Ericka Simpson each scored 10.

Freshman Jess Zweifel continued her strong play against Grand View and finished with eight points. Zweifel scored 11 against the Vikings on Jan. 16 in Des Moines, Iowa.

The Wildcats completed the sweep of Grand View and sit in fourth place in the Heart of America Athletic Conference going into the final week of the regular season. Two wins could put the Wildcats into third place with two Benedictine losses. But two Baker losses could drop the Wildcats into fifth place and force them to go on the road in the opening round of the conference tournament.

This week Baker hosts Peru State at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday night in the Collins Center for senior night. The Wildcats will finish the regular season at William Penn on Saturday at 2 p.m. Baker beat both of those teams in the first meeting and look to complete season sweeps of both.

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