Crusaders close out ‘Cats 72-60

Story by Kyle Davis

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The Baker women’s basketball team won round one against Evangel University Dec. 1 66-61, and two months later the Crusaders evened the series with a 72-60 win over the Wildcats Saturday in Springfield, Mo.

Fifty of Evangel’s 72 points came from two players: Kara Blankenship, who had 23 points, and Ashlee Luko, who had a career-high 27 points. The lost dropped the Wildcats’ record to 10-3 in the HAAC and 14-9 overall.

Baker shot a strong percentage from the field, 53 percent, but had trouble getting into a rhythm offensively.

“Our shooting percentage was really good, but at some points when we really needed a score, we just couldn’t,” junior Aubree Gustin said. “We just got in such a funk on Saturday that we couldn’t get out of it.”

Junior Emily Gibson led the team in scoring with 17 points, followed by sophomore Brooke Sanders and Gustin, who both reached double figures with 11. Decker attributed perimeter-shooting struggles to Saturday’s loss.

“When Emily plays like she does in the middle, and she gets double and triple teamed, we’ve got to have somebody that can shoot it from the outside and we just didn’t have that on Saturday,” head coach Susan Decker said.

Sanders has been starting at the point guard position since junior Jenna Brantley has missed several games with an illness and has been recently working her way back into the starting lineup.

“I thought she did a great job of putting the ball on the floor and dribble penetrating,” Decker said. “Brooke’s just playing with a lot of confidence right now. I’m very pleased with how she played.”

Evangel has not lost a conference game since being defeated by Baker, and was 12-1 and two games ahead of the Wildcats in the HAAC standings entering Thursday.

Baker hosted Avila University Thursday in Collins Center, but results were not available at presstime. Avila was 15-8 overall and 9-4 in conference play entering Thursday’s contest.

This was the first meeting between the two teams this season because the first scheduled game at Avila on Jan. 7 was postponed due to weather. The game at Avila was rescheduled for Feb. 22.

“I know it will be a battle on Thursday,” Decker said. “It’ll be one of those games that we’ve got to be ready to play and to maintain our position where we are at in the conference. It’s a big game for us.”

Baker is back on the road Saturday, traveling to Canton, Mo., to take on Culver-Stockton College. Baker won the first matchup of the season 83-43.<br/>