Jan. 13, 2012
Bearcats ready to turn the corner vs. SBU
By David Boyce
Despite just one MIAA victory in its first eight conference games, Northwest Missouri State women’s basketball team enters Saturday afternoon game at Bearcat Arena against Southwest Baptist with plenty of hope.
Northwest is 1-1 in its last two conference games. The Bearcats nearly pulled off a road win against Central Missouri Wednesday evening, before falling 66-64.
Central Missouri is a squad Northwest coach Gene Steinmeyer figures will finish in the top six in conference. The Jennies are 10-4 overall and 4-4 in the MIAA.
“At Central, we were so close to a big win,” Steinmeyer said “It hurts so much to get that close and not pull it off, especially on the road. It could have given us a giant step. We have to accept what it is and go on from there.”
Looking forward, Northwest has an opportunity to put itself back in the picture of reaching the MIAA tournament. Northwest and Southwest both stand 1-7 in the MIAA.
The Bearcats will also play at Missouri Southern on Jan. 18. The Lions are in last place at 1-8. All three teams are trying to fight for at least the eighth spot, which is currently held by Missouri Western, which is 3-5.
“The next two games are really going to be interesting,” Steinmeyer said. “Somebody is going to come out of this really in trouble making the conference tournament.
Steinmeyer does not want to see that team be his. He is seeing some encouraging signs of a turnaround.
It started a week ago at Bearcat Arena with a thrilling 58-57 win over Truman, a nice bounce back after a tough 62-51 loss at Western.
“That might have been the best learning experience, reading the comments from the Western players,” Steinmeyer said.
At Central, Steinmeyer saw more balance. He liked that the post position produced 25 points. Senior point guard Abby Henry 13 points and freshman guard Ashleigh Nelson finished with 14 points and played solid defense as well.
“Our defense continues to get a little better. I think we are starting to find our niche defensively and get some balance offensively,” Steinmeyer said. “We are playing better. We were in the middle of one of those streaks you think you will never get out. We are semi out of it. You hope you never get back in it.
“I am not going to say we turned the corner, but the sun is looking a little bit brighter this week than it did last week.”
Steinmeyer wonders about the start of conference play. The Bearcats faced the top four teams in conference in its first four MIAA games. Pittsburg State, Emporia State and Washburn each have only one conference loss and Fort Hays State has two.
“By playing the top four teams in the first four games of the season, did it beat us up and put us in a skid or did it get us ready with what we are facing now,” Steinmeyer said.
“A win Wednesday night would have been a great boost. A win in the next two is essential. They are absolutely the biggest games of the year. If we can get wins over SBU and Southern, we then face the monsters again, but we do it with a little jump in our step.”
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