Jan. 19, 2013
Bearcat women hold off Bronchos for key road win
By David Boyce
EDMOND, OKLA. – Early in the second half the game was starting to slip away from Northwest Missouri State women’s basketball team.
Central Oklahoma wasn’t playing particularly well at the UCO Fieldhouse Saturday afternoon. Northwest was helping the Bronchos out with some careless turnovers and soft defense.
Northwest coach Mark Kellogg called a 30-second timeout and implored the Bearcats to compete and have strong fortitude on the road. The players got the message.
The Bearcats took care of the ball, played strong defense and attacked the boards. It was that tough mental approach the last 15 minutes that carried the Bearcats to a 65-55 win.
Keying the victory for Northwest was sophomore Maggie Marnin, who scored 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds. Sophomore Annie Mathews also had a double-double, scoring 10 points and pulling down 10 rebounds.
Junior Meridee Scott came off the bench and scored 11 points and several of her points came at important spots in the game.
It was the second win in a row and first conference road triumph for the Bearcats, who improved to 10-5 overall and 4-3 in the MIAA.
“This was great,” Marnin said. “We are really excited about it. We just hope this trend keeps up.”
Even though the Bearcats faced a Central Oklahoma team that only has one conference win, they needed to play well in the second half.
The turnaround began when Northwest trailed 34-29.
“That was the point it could have gone one way or the other,” Kellogg said. “They were making a run. Are we going to squash it or get ready to fold?
“It was that teachable moment. We came right back from that run and that’s what you have to do.”
The Bearcats scored the next four points. Northwest went ahead 38-36 on a basket by Scott and never trailed again.
“We had some silly turnovers,” Marnin said. “We know we needed to put it together because we haven’t had many great road wins. We really wanted this one. We worked on really putting it together.”
Northwest, though, didn’t pull away until the final minute. The Bearcats led only 48-47 with about 7:16 left.
Marnin, who played well throughout, gave the Bearcats a bit of breathing room when she scored consecutive baskets, helping Northwest increase its lead to 52-47.
“It was very important to keep the lead,” Marnin said.
Northwest answered one final challenge when Central Oklahoma closed to 56-53. The Bearcats scored the next five points for a 61-53 lead with a minute left.
“That was probably the best second-half defense we have had all season,” Kellogg said. “We needed to buckle down on defense and we got out in transition. We are at our best when we can force them to one shot and we can get out and go. That was a big factor in the game.”
In a wild first half that saw Northwest score the first 10 points and eventually fall behind 17-14, the Bearcats managed to take a slim 27-26 lead into halftime.
“We always want to play the whole 40 minutes,” Marnin said. “We know if we get off to a good start, the whole 40 minutes will go a lot easier. We’ve been working on transition a lot and I think that helped.”
It was almost too easy the way Northwest scored in the opening minutes. The Bearcats pounded the ball inside to Marnin and Mathews and they laid-in baskets almost uncontested.
It was so easy that Central Oklahoma called two timeouts in the first 5 minutes. A blowout seemed inevitable.
But basketball is a game of runs and the Bronchos got on one, outscoring Northwest 17-4 over the 7 minutes.
Central Oklahoma shut down the inside game of Northwest and the three-point shots weren’t falling. The Bearcats missed their first seven three-point attempts.
Still, Northwest clawed back in front 20-19 on a basket by Scott. Over the next few possessions, the two teams traded leads.
Northwest put together one more spurt late in the first half and scored seven straight points for a 27-21 lead. Central Oklahoma answered by scoring the last five points in the first half.
The Bearcats, though, played great defense, holding Central Oklahoma to 21 percent shooting. Northwest committed 12 turnovers and that prevented a bigger lead.
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