March 4, 2010
Bearcats Win Opening Round Game of MIAA Tournament
KANSAS CITY, Mo.-Northwest Missouri State avenged two previous losses this season to Pittsburg State on Thursday afternoon in the first round of the MIAA Tournament. Northwest defeated the Gorillas 75-71 on the strength of Abby Henry's game-high 25 points and seven assists. Henry also added seven rebounds and two steals in the victory.
Pittsburg State (14-14) got on the board first with a pair of Nicole McCombs free-throws and also held a 4-2 lead with 18:11 left in the opening half. Northwest would proceed to go on a 23-7 run and build its biggest lead of the game at 25-11 with 8:17 to play in the first-half. Pittsburg State would cut the lead down to five before Gabby Cutis hit a jumper with 36 second left in the half and gave Northwest a 40-33 halftime lead.
Northwest would lead the rest of the game with Pittsburg State threatening numerous times and even cutting the Bearcat lead to 68-65 with 3:52 remaining. A pair of Shelly Martin free throws with six seconds remaining put the Bearcats up 74-69. After a quick Pittsburg State field goal, Henry stepped to the line with 1.8 seconds remaining and hit the first free throw to seal the win.
Martin scored 17 points on 6-of-10 from the field. The MIAA's leading three-point shooter also hit 3-of-6 from long distance. Melissa Nyquist scored a career-high eight points and hauled down seven rebounds. Gabby Curtis added eight points, three assists and three blocks.
Northwest shot nearly 41 percent from the floor and hit 5-of-13 from three-point land (38.5 percent). Pittsburg State shot 35 percent for the game and went 3-of-21 (14.3 percent) from deep. After being out-rebounded badly in their first two meetings this season with Pittsburg State, the Bearcats won the rebounding margin 45-41. The Bearcats forced 18 Gorilla turnovers and also dished out 18 assists in the win.
Northwest (14-14) will play its semifinal contest at noon Saturday against the top-seeced Washburn. The Lady Blues defeated Southwest Baptist 80-60 in the first game of the tournament.
Northwest Head Coach Gene Steinmeyer Post-Game Quotes
The most important part of the game came in the last three minutes of the first half. When we were playing at Pitt, we had a 10-point lead with the ball with three-and-a-half to go, just exactly like it was today and they got back to within three. So we're up 10 with three-and-a-half to go and our first two post players on the bench in foul trouble and Tara Roach came in, and Tara Roach's minutes weren't very big, but what she did in those three-and-a-half minutes probably had as much to do with winning the game as anything.
On Northwest's defense on Pittsburg State's Nicole McCombs and DePrice Taylor…
McCombs and Taylor have killed us. McCombs, we've never held to less than 20 and less than 15-20 rebounds and to hold those two to 18 combined points was really important. And that's what we concentrated on. Taking the right hand from Taylor, because she's such a great driver and trying to double McCombs, because she's really tough in the post.
On the play of Abby Henry…
Abby's always important. There was one game Abby had 14 points and was the most valuable player out there because she had eight assists. Sometimes teams have to pick their poison. If they stop Abby then they're going to have to give some shot to Shelly (Martin) or Gabby (Curtis). I think we've had eight or nine players over the course of the year score in double figures. So we have the firepower, we just have to put the right ones on the floor.
Looking ahead to Washburn…
Except for one half of basketball, Washburn's really handled us this year and in that one half they had a 20-point lead so they may have lost a little bit of focus. They're one of the best teams in the nation. If they can win the region, they can easily be national champions. But, for some reason, we've played pretty well down in this place and in the eight years that it's been down here it's either been us or Washburn winning it.
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