Baker women’s basketball team advances to HAAC Tournament

Story by Kyle Davis

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Feb. 25 was the final regular season home game for the Baker women’s basketball team, however, the Wildcats stepped onto the Collins Center court again Thursday as hosts of first round game of the HAAC Tournament against Avila University.

“Just guard-to-guard, post-to-post, I think we match up with (Avila) really well,” head coach Susan Decker said. “At this time in the year, there’s not going to be any new things that are going to be thrown out from teams. It’s just who executes better, who plays better on that particular night and advances.”

Baker grabbed the No. 4 seed in the tournament, with Avila being the No. 5 seed. The teams split the regular season matchup, with Baker winning at home 62-52 and losing on the road 62-53. Results for the tournament game against Avila were not available by presstime.

MidAmerica Nazarene University caused a shakeup in the HAAC standings after being forced to forfeit three wins for a player entering the game who was academically ineligible, which helped Baker land a home game in the first round.

Baker wrapped up the regular season with a 63-50 win at Graceland University Saturday in Lamoni, Iowa, where four Wildcats scored in double figures. Junior Emily Gibson led the way with a game-high 15 points and 16 rebounds.

Junior Aubree Gustin neared a double-double as she put up 12 points and eight rebounds, while sophomore Gloria Atanmo and junior Brittany Hines both reached the double figures mark in points with 13 points and 12 points, respectively.

“I’m a firm believer when you get four people in double figures you’re probably going to win,” Decker said.

MidAmerica Nazarene spoiled Baker’s senior night on Feb. 25 with a 64-50 win over the Wildcats. Baker struggled from behind the arc, hitting just four of 21 3-point attempts.

Gibson was the only Wildcat in double figures with 23 points. The Baker defense was able to hold recently awarded HAAC Player of the Year Bethany Rexroth to 10 points. However, the Pioneers were hot from 3-point range, knocking down nine of 15 attempts.

“I’d definitely say the key to that game was outside shooting,” Gibson said. “We shut Rexroth down to 10 points and we just really needed to guard their threes because that’s what killed us, their outside shots.”

Gibson, averaging 15.1 points and 10.2 rebounds a game this season, was named first-team all-conference and also received the HAAC Newcomer of the Year award. Gustin was named third team all-conference and Hines was an all-conference honorable-mention selection.

“To get that recognition, I think, says a lot about them as a player, says a lot about how we’ve developed our program and the respect that we have amongst the conference and the type of players that we have,” Decker said.

With a win Thursday night, the Wildcats would play Saturday against the winner of the William Jewell College, Lindenwood University game.