Dec. 7, 2011
Bearcats fall to undefeated Gorillas
By David Boyce
Northwest Missouri State women’s basketball team started the second half the same as the first: slow.
It cost the Bearcats dearly as they faced a 19-point deficit 4 minutes into the second half against undefeated Pittsburg State.
But the circumstance the Bearcats faced Wednesday evening at Bearcat Arena failed to crush their spirit.
Despite an 84-63 loss, Northwest put together several spurts that energized the team and the crowd.
Shelly Martin, who got hot, started one of the runs. She helped the Bearcats close to 56-47 with 11:30 left in the game.
Northwest, though, had trouble getting closer because of an outside-inside game by Pitt. On this occasion it was the inside scoring of Larissa Richards that increased the Gorillas’ lead to 58-47.
A three-pointer by Brooke Conley gave Pitt a 63-50 a little later.
The Bearcats, though, had another run in them. This time it came from freshman Annie Mathews, who had back-to-back inside buckets that dropped Northwest’s deficit to eight at 65-57.
“In the last three games we’ve been so close, a point when we were down six or seven and they would hit one big shot and we would put our heads down,” Martin said.
“Once we figure out how to overcome that, we will be pretty tough to beat.”
Over the next couple of minutes, Northwest stayed within eight to 10 points. But another long three-pointer by Pitt guard Drew Roberts late in the second half but the brakes on a comeback. Her trey gave the Gorillas a 70-59 lead.
“I hated to give away those layups the last 4 minutes,” Northwest coach Gene Steinmeyer said. “We just could not get a stop. We ran out of gas the last 4 minutes and it left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth.”
In improving to 9-0 overall and 3-0 in the MIAA, Pitt knocked down 10 three-pointers in 20 attempts.
“They might be the best of the three conference teams we’ve played,” Steinmeyer said. “They have a legitimate right to say they are the best in the MIAA right now. I’m not going to say they are, but if they are not, they are pretty close.”
The loss dropped Northwest to 2-7 and 0-3. Once again, Northwest showed it has the potential to win games in the MIAA once it puts all the pieces together.
“We are getting better at staying together as a team,” said freshman Ashleigh Nelson, who finished with six points and five rebounds. “Those last 4 minutes really killed us. If we could have just gotten it down to six points, I think we could have won.”
Senior Abby Henry led the way for the Bearcats, scoring 22 points, and Martin chipped in 11.
In the first half, Northwest gave up the first nine points and that was the worst thing that could happen to the Bearcats. It caused Northwest to play catch-up against an offense that was raining in three-pointers at a 50-percent rate and making easy layups.
Despite the uphill climb, the Bearcats clawed away, inching to 11-6. But that’s when the Gorillas scored consecutive field goals for a 15-6 advantage.
When it appeared Northwest gained some momentum on a high-arching three-pointer by Nelson, the Bearcats saw Pitt come right back with a three-pointer by Roberts.
Nearly every time Northwest made a charge, Pitt put a quick stop to the run with a three-pointer, some of which were close to NBA range.
The halftime stat sheet showed the Gorillas went six for 12 from beyond the arc, but it seemed 12-for-12. The treys helped Pitt take a 41-26 lead into halftime.
One bright spot for Northwest was the play of Henry, who has been hampered this fall with a sore thumb. Henry was four for eight from the field and scored 12 points in the first half.
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