Wildcats end season with 73-59 loss to William Jewell in HAAC Tournament

Story by Kyle Davis

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Baker’s women’s basketball team suffered two losses against William Jewell College Saturday in Liberty, Mo.

One ended the Wildcats’ season and HAAC Tournament run, with a 73-59 loss, at the end of the 40 minutes, and the other ended sophomore Rae Lynne Stewart’s season with 12:14 left in the game.

Stewart picked off a William Jewell cross-court pass and injured her knee after being fouled while going up for a fast-break layup. Stewart had to be carried off the court and head coach Susan Decker said it could be the ACL or MCL that was injured.

The last time Baker faced William Jewell, Feb. 18, junior Jenna Brantley suffered a season-ending knee injury on the second offensive possession of the game.

“(It’s) unfortunate for Rae, I thought she had a real solid night tonight before she went down and was a better matchup for us defensively especially,” Decker said.

It was a game of runs for both teams, with William Jewell trying to pull away and Baker fighting back. In the end, Jewell seniors Hillary Adams and Erica Ferguson were too much for the Wildcats.

The Cardinals jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first 4:30 of the game before junior Aubree Gustin threw a three-quarter-court outlet pass to junior Brittany HInes for a layup to give Baker its first points.

“We got down 9-0 and called a quick timeout and I thought we were a little bit nervous to start with,” Decker said. “Jewell is the type of team that will make runs on you.”

Baker then made a run of its own midway through the first half, cutting the William Jewell lead to two, at 14-12, with a 3-pointer by sophomore Brooke Sanders with 7:39 left in the half.

The two teams tied the score several times and exchanged lead changes before the Cardinals took a 27-24 lead into halftime.

The story of the second half took place behind the 3-point arc.

Sanders hit a 3-pointer in the first minute of the second half to tie the game at 27. Adams knocked down a deep three, after making a free throw, to put the Cardinals up by four before Hines answered with another 3-pointer for the Wildcats.

William Jewell tried to pull away with a 45-36 lead with 10:39 left in the contest, however, Gustin answered the Cardinals’ run with back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the lead to three.

With 7:53 left in the game, William Jewell led 49-44. Cue Hillary Adams.

Adams drained a 3-pointer with 6:45 remaining before hitting two more 3-pointers in the next three minutes. All of a sudden, with the help of her teammates, the Cardinals’ lead was 14. The Cardinals were able to hold onto the lead and advance to the championship game of the HAAC Tournament.

Baker was able to get hot from behind the arc, hitting eight of 16 attempts and five of nine in the second half, however, William Jewell was even better, hitting 11 of 18 3-pointers and seven of 10 in the second half.

“Any time we can hit some three’s from the outside, it makes a big difference for us. Unfortunately, Jewell just hit more than we did down the stretch,” Decker said.

Baker shot 42 percent from the field, but struggled from the free-throw line, which is normally a strength for the Wildcats. The Wildcats went just one-for-six from the line in the first half before hitting four of five in the second half.

Junior Emily Gibson led Baker with 16 points and 11 rebounds, while Gustin was the only other Wildcat in double figures with 11. Adams and Ferguson led the Cardinals with 24 and 22 points respectively.

The Wildcats, who ended the season with a record of 18-14, are losing one senior, Tayler Stacks, for next year, but will return everyone else in hopes of making another run next season.

“It’s obviously disappointing for Tayler, being her last game, but there’s a lot to look forward to with this group,” Decker said. “The nucleus of our team is coming back, we’ll add a few kids coming in for next year, but really I think we have a chance to really make a run again next year.”