Feb. 5, 2011
Northwest wins behind strong defensive showing
By David Boyce
Stellar defense at the start of each half was the main reason Northwest Missouri State women's basketball team defeated Pittsburg State 61-50 Saturday afternoon at Bearcat Arena.
The Bearcats jumped to a 6-0 lead to start the game mainly because of a stingy defense.
A 9-0 start to begin the second half increased Northwest's lead to 36-16 and gave the Bearcats the cushion it needed to withstand a couple of runs by Pittsburg State.
"Defense is something we've been working on," said Northwest junior Abby Henry. "When we go back and look at the film of our earlier games we are embarrassed at how we played defense. It motivates us to pick it up a little bit."
The win pushed the record of the first-place Bearcats to 17-3 overall and 13-3 in the MIAA. Pittsburg State dropped to 11-9 and 9-7.
"Here's a point that people don't understand is that from Dec. 11 until now, Pitt. and us have the best records in the MIAA," Northwest coach Gene Steinmeyer said.
The Gorillas definitely looked liked one of the better teams in the MIAA when they closed to 40-35 with 8:26 left. And later they quickly trimmed six points off an 11-point deficit after Alexa Bordewick and Drew Roberts hit back-to-back treys with 2:05 left.
Northwest, though, finished the way they started. They prevented Pittsburg from scoring the last two minutes. Henry put the game away by draining six straight free throws for the final margin.
"Teams do make that run at us but we just have to stick together as a team," Henry said. "We just kept telling each other that we don't want to lose this game so we made sure it wouldn't happen.
"We kept playing hard. We weren't hitting our shots like we normally do. I give credit to a lot of different people for sticking it out even when they weren't making their shots."
For the game, the Bearcats only shot 33 percent, making 21-of-64 from the field. Pittsburg State was much worse from the field, going 19-for-74 for 26 percent.
"It was a physical game in which neither team got rhythm on offense and I think it was because it was so physical," Steinmeyer said.
Senior Kyla Roehrig's stats typified the type of game it was Saturday afternoon. She dominated the action and only scored nine points.
But Roehrig had five blocks and 15 rebounds. She simply owned the paint and that was impressive considering Pittsburg played a 6-foot-6 center in Lauren Brown and a 6-3 forward in Larissa Richards.
"It was very physical," Roehrig said. "It was a real battle underneath the hoop. Going against two players over 6-3 made it fun.
The Bearcats showed in the first half why coaches preach defense so much. Little went right on offense for Northwest in the first 10 minutes, but the Bearcats still managed to build a 13-3 lead.
Roehrig made it nearly impossible for the Gorillas to get anything inside. She blocked three shots in the first half.
And when Roehrig wasn't swatting away shots, Gentry Dietz made her presence felt with two blocks.
It forced the Gorillas to take wild shots from the outside. Pittsburg wound up hitting just 6-of-38 shots from the field for a woeful 15.8 percent.
The one spurt the Gorillas had helped them close to 13-11 with eight minutes left in the first half.
But that's when Northwest's normally potent offense came alive. It started with a mid-range jumper by Shelly Martin followed by a three-pointer by Martin that quickly extended the Bearcats' lead to 18-11.
A few seconds later Henry hit a basket and after Pittsburg State made one of two free throws, Gabby Curtis drove through the lane for a nifty layup that gave the Bearcats a 22-12 lead.
"We finally attacked the basket," Steinmeyer said. "As physical as they were they were keeping us away from the basket.
"It is really hard to play that good of defense for 20 minutes. You are going to let down at some point. They had a little, 2-minute let down and we took advantage of it."
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