Jan. 16, 2008
Northwest Goes For Three in a Row Saturday
MARYVILLE, Mo.-Northwest Missouri State (7-8, 2-6 MIAA) goes for its first three-game winning streak of the season Saturday when it takes on fifth-ranked Southwest Baptist (13-2, 6-2 MIAA) at Meyer Sports Complex in Bolivar, Mo.
Both teams carry the moniker Bearcats and it's the green Bearcats from Maryville who have won nine of the last 11 meetings in Bolivar. The purple Bearcats, though, won 79-72 there a year ago as part of Southwest Baptist's first-ever sweep of Northwest in 14 series.
Southwest Baptist is the overwhelming favorite to repeat as conference champion this season and some have the Bearcats winning it all in 2009. The team started 12-0 and was ranked as high as No. 2, but since has lost two of its last three games - both on the road - at Washburn and Nebraska-Omaha.
The Bearcats combined for 19-of-61 three-pointers and 40 turnovers in their two losses. They average better than 93 points and 11 treys per games, which rank third and second in the nation, respectively.
Conversely, Northwest attempted four 3-pointers in its 61-57 upset of No. 19 Central Missouri Wednesday. Instead its defense reigned supreme in holding the Mules to less than 70 points for the first time all season. The Bearcats dictated a slower tempo for much of the game and used their height advantage down low to earn the win. Forwards Hunter Henry and Elijah Allen combined for 40 points and 15 rebounds.
Speaking of big men, two of the league's best will square off Saturday. Henry and Southwest Baptist's Matt Rogers each rank in the top four of the MIAA for points, rebounds, blocks and field goal percentage. Henry leads the league with 9.4 rebounds per game. Rogers, the MIAA's reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is the nation's leader in blocked shots.
Henry is expected to hit yet another milestone Saturday. He needs three points to become the second player in program history with 1,400 points and 700 rebounds, joining Joe Hurst who played from 1982-86.
Allen has averaged better than 15 points since being inserted into the starting lineup midway through the season. Northwest junior Mike Larsen has handed out 13 assists and had nine steals since taking over at point guard two games ago. Larsen ranks second in steals and third in assist-to-turnover ratio in conference play.
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