Dec. 1, 2010
Bearcats Lose MIAA Opener to No. 10 ESU
By David Boyce
EMPORIA, Kan.- The first MIAA assignment was a tough one for the Northwest Missouri State women's basketball team.
The Bearcats had to go on the road Wednesday evening at historic White Auditorium and face No. 10 Emporia State, the NCAA Division II national champions.
Despite trailing the entire second half, Northwest forced Emporia State to play a full 40 minutes.
But the Bearcats never could quite overcome an 11-point, halftime deficit. Northwest lost for the first time this season, falling 77-67 to Emporia.
"I think we played awesome," said junior forward Tara Roach. "We had our ups and downs, but if we would have done the little things right and set screens this game would have ended better."
Northwest dropped to 4-1 overall and 0-1 in the MIAA. Emporia improved to 4-1 and 1-0.
Throughout the second half, Northwest showed plenty of signs that it can compete with the elite in the MIAA.
"I think we played pretty well," said junior guard Abby Henry. "We played hard and that's one of things we wanted to do when we came in here. We had a lot of mental lapses on defense and that hurt us."
The Bearcats never wavered even though they were behind. They fought back from a 54-43 deficit in the second half and closed to 54-50 midway through the second half.
"We played hard but not very smart," Northwest coach Gene Steinmeyer said. "We set three goals at the start of the season and one of them was to play harder than our opponent.
"I think really, overall, we might have played harder than them. We were scrappier and Tara might have had a lot to do with that. Some of the rebounds we got and some of the loose balls we got, I thought we played pretty hard."
Northwest, though, always seemed to be one stop or one made basket away from putting a real scare into the Hornets.
Every time the Bearcats got within striking distance, Emporia had a brief spurt to extend its lead, such as a 5-1 run for a 59-51 lead.
"I felt like we were doing everything we could to catch up," Roach said.
Northwest closed to 61-57 on two free throws by Alexis Boeh with 5 minutes left, and that's when Rachel Hanf hurt the Bearcats with a three-pointer.
"That's what I'm talking about defensive mental lapses," Henry said. "We were so close. If we could have gotten that one stop, but we never got that one stop. We have to work on it. We have to buckle down and get that one stop when we need it."
Hanf also hurt Northwest in the first half with some timely outside shots. She finished with 17 points.
Still, the Bearcats kept clawing and were within five at 70-65 with about 90 seconds left.
Northwest got solid contributions from Henry, Roach and Kyla Roehrig. Henry finished with a game-high 19 points and Roehrig finished with a double-double, scoring 10 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. Roach nearly had a double-double, pulling down 10 rebounds, a career-high and scoring nine points.
"We executed our offense pretty well in the second half," Steinmeyer said. "We just missed some easy shots. We got stuck on 47 for a long time. If we would have been able to score consistently, we would have been alright."
Northwest jumped to a 9-4 lead and then watched Emporia score the next seven points for an 11-9 advantage.
The Bearcats never saw the lead again. They went into halftime down 43-32.
Next up for Northwest is the second of four straight road games to begin conference play. The Bearcats face another perennial power in the MIAA when they go to Lee Arena and take on Washburn on Saturday at 5:30 p.m.
"They are a really tough team as well," Henry said. "One thing to our advantage is we only have two new players. Everybody knows what to expect."
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