The Baker Orange

Women, seniors dominate Peru State in home finale

Story by Jim Joyner, Sports Editor

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The women’s basketball team sent its seniors out with an 85-43 win over Peru State, the largest margin of victory in conference play this season. The four seniors accounted for 44 of the team’s points and exited with a standing ovation halfway through the fourth quarter.

Peru State scored the game’s first basket, but the Bobcats would never lead in the game again. Immediately following that basket, Baker scored 19 consecutive points to cruise into a comfortable 21-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. That 19-0 stretch set the tempo for the remainder of the game.

Senior Jami Hodge’s three steals led to three breakaway layups in the first quarter and eight first-quarter points. The Wildcats maintained a lead of around 20 points for the remainder of the second quarter. At the half Baker held a commanding 46-21 lead, capitalizing on 11 Peru State turnovers for 18 points.

The second half was a chance for everybody to get in for the Wildcats. Every Wildcat played at least 11 minutes because of the team’s big lead throughout the entire second half.

Halfway through the fourth quarter the senior class received its curtain call. Head coach Ben Lister cleared his bench and subbed his seniors out one-by-one. Fans in the Collins Center crowd, including former Baker President Pat Long, rose to their feet to give the Wildcats one final ovation at home in the regular season.

The senior class capped off its 89th win, an average of more than 21 per season.

The four seniors were a part of the Lister’s first recruiting class. The seniors have won 20 or more games in every single season at Baker and are the program’s winningest senior class.

Senior Ericka Simpson became the program’s leader in games played when she stepped on the floor for the opening tip. Simpson’s 125 games will be followed closely by senior Macy Wallisch, who currently sits at 122 games played.

Hodge and Wallisch each scored 15 points. Wallisch tallied another double-double, and her second against Peru State this season, with 11 rebounds. Simpson finished her senior night with 12 points and six assists, while senior Taylor Chase finished with two points and six rebounds.

Junior Kelsey Larson nailed three early 3-pointers and finished the game with 11 points, and freshman Jess Zweifel scored nine.

The 85-43 win pushes Baker to 21-7 overall and 15-6 in the Heart of America Athletic Conference going into the final game of the regular season. The Wildcats will take on the William Penn Statesmen at 2 p.m. on Saturday to conclude their 22-game Heart of America Athletic Conference schedule. Baker has the fourth seed locked up for the conference tournament because it owns the tiebreaker with Culver-Stockton. Baker will host Culver in the quarterfinals of the Heart tournament next week.

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