After an unsuccessful home stretch that handed the Northwest women’s basketball team two losses to Emporia State and Washburn, the Bearcats hope to rebound with a victory over conference rival Missouri Western Jan. 19.
Northwest (6-9) found itself on the losing side of its last two contests in MIAA play, coming without much of a fight from the Bearcats. The Hornets (11-4) and Ichabods (10-4) both came to Bearcat Arena and left with double-digit victories.
“When we make mistakes like turning the ball over, those good teams are going to make you pay,” coach Meyer said. “We continue to talk about getting to where we play 40-minute games and getting better just one possession at a time.”
With half of the 2018-19 season in the rearview mirror, Northwest sets its eyes on its next test, who has not only proven to be a daunting opponent in the MIAA but for the Bearcats throughout much of their history.
The Griffons (8-7) and Bearcats have squared off a total of 71 times as MIAA conference foes with the record in favor of Missouri Western 42-29. The Bearcats have only defeated the Griffons nine times in St. Joseph in a total of 34 games played in the MWSU Fieldhouse at Looney Complex.
To add to the upcoming matchup, Missouri Western is welcoming back three skilled athletes to the lineup that have been out with injuries and will bring a much stronger defensive front. Strong defenses have challenged the frontcourt of the Northwest offenses for much of the season, but Meyer feels like his girls will be prepared.
“They are a lot different than they were a month ago,” Meyer said. “But, we are too. With Kylie getting back with more and more minutes, we will be full go as well.”
For sophomore guard Jaelyn Haggard, the stakes are just a bit higher this time around. Haggard is a native of St. Joseph and expects both family and friends to attend the conference dual.
“It’s definitely exciting just to play at home,” Haggard said. “It just gives that extra motivation to play harder and be able to compete in front of my friends and family.”
Haggard leads the team in both scorings, averaging 13.4 points per game, and steals at 1.5 per game. She also averages a team-high 31.2 minutes per contest.
By the time the showdown takes place Jan. 19, Northwest will have accumulated seven days of rest, which can prove to be advantageous for squads who need to review and prepare for upcoming games. Meyer believes this is a perfect time in the season to give his players some time off before heading into the latter half of the season.
“You get into (playing) every few days, it’s hard to watch as many games, individual clips and personnel stuff,” Meyer said. “I’m confident in our staff that we are going to put in the time, and so having that extra day or two is huge.”