Northwest women’s basketball is two weeks into the 2019-20 season, where the Bearcats have walked away from their first four games with a 2-2 record. The theme, although not the most effective, has been consistent: lose one game and win the other.
When the women take on Nebraska Christian (0-8) Nov. 21 in Bearcat Arena, they will be eight days removed from a 90-22 slaughter over Kansas Christian Nov. 13 in the home opener. They’ll also be four days past perhaps their worst performance of the year in a 68-57 loss to Maryville University Nov. 17.
The same team that shot 53% against Kansas Christian shot 29% four days later against Maryville. The season-worst shooting performance was in part because the Bearcats got open shots, coach Austin Meyer said, but not good ones. Nonetheless, the Bearcats survived the first two weeks with a record at 50%.
“I didn’t think that we had great energy out of the gate (against Christian),” Meyer said. “That’s something that we continue to stress every day. … Whether it’s someone redshirting, somebody out, everybody’s gotta bring that individual energy every day and we’ll just keep working at it.”
The Bearcats, Meyer said, regressed in the matchup with Maryville. One of the struggles that the women have had is driving to the basket, something that’s affected by the absence of an injured junior guard Mallory McConkey. The struggles with driving, coupled with a lack of scrimmaging in practice, Meyer said, are factors that have played into the hot-and-cold spurts.
Despite playing without McConkey, the team’s third-highest scorer from a season ago, scoring has been replaced by an array of Bearcats. After senior guard Kendey Eaton spearheaded the Bearcats’ offense in the first two games, scoring 47 points, four Bearcats found their way to scoring double digits against Christian.
Against the Falcons, junior guards Kylie Coleman (18), Zoie Hayward (17), Jaelyn Haggard (15) and freshman forward Paityn Rau (10) were the four to compile the feat. The fact that they were able to do that, Haggard said, is assuring.
“It’s always cool to see everybody contributing,” Haggard said. “For those three, it was a big game for them, and I was excited for them to get some points on the board.”
Meyer will get another chance to see the energy uptick that he wants from the women when they play the Sentinals before heading to Cedar, Iowa, to play an exhibition matchup against Division I’s Northern Iowa Nov. 24.
The matchup with Nebraska Christian will allow the Bearcats to work on the things that they know need work. The matchup with the Panthers (4-0) could shed light on inconsistencies the Bearcats were hoping to keep in the shadows.
The key for the Bearcats, Haggard said, is sticking true to the philosophies that are consistent throughout the program. The competitiveness, no matter who the opponent is, is what will prove to be important for Northwest, Haggard said.
“I think the games against Northern Iowa are going to be better for us because it holds us accountable,” Haggard said. “It’s easy in slower games to take what’s given to you, versus attacking the basket. I think playing a team that’s really good and aggressive, it’s going to make us have to boost to be on their level as well.”