NW WBB 3-4-2020 3

Northwest women's basketball junior guard Jaelyn Haggard (left) scored 22 points in the Bearcats' 71-67 win over Central Oklahoma March 4 in Kansas City, Missouri, in Municipal Auditorium. The Bearcats are pegged with an MIAA Tournament Quarterfinal matchup with Emporia State March 5.

When Northwest women’s basketball steps inside of Municipal Auditorium March 5, the Bearcats will be looking to complete an upset bid that would, on paper, surpass the one they accomplished less than 24 hours prior.

A 71-67 win for the No. 10-seeded Bearcats over the No. 7 seed, Central Oklahoma, in the first round of the MIAA Tournament March 4 snapped a six-game losing skid that the Bearcats carried into the postseason.

“It’s a new season, it’s fresh,” Northwest coach Austin Meyer said. “Everybody’s 0-0 at this point. You just gotta play it one game at a time, compete, and hopefully move on. We’re excited to get this one. … It’s now focusing on (the next matchup). You don’t get to enjoy these as long, that’s the thing about the tournament settings.”

In the grand scheme of things, the result of the quarterfinal game against the No. 2 seed, Emporia State, makes the win over Central seem rather insignificant. With a win, the Bearcats complete an upset that, in some ways, carries more weight than the win against the Bronchos. With a loss, the Bearcats won’t play another game until November.

In their only meeting with Emporia, the Bearcats fell 79-66 Jan. 9. That was a game in which senior guard Kendey Eaton was injured during the opening minutes of the contest. That was a game that was the first of five losses in a row at the time for the Bearcats. It was also a game in which the Bearcats trailed by 3 points midway through the fourth quarter.

This time around, the Bearcats are looking to put together back-to-back wins for the first time since a two-game road trip Jan. 30-Feb. 1, when they defeated Newman and Central Oklahoma.

“This is a fun tournament and I’m just glad that our kids get to experience it,” Meyer said. “We want to experience it, but we don’t wanna just come down here to be here. … We wanted to come down here to compete and win and we did that. Now we live to see another day.”

The 13-point spread at the final buzzer that the Hornets stung the Bearcats with in January, Meyer said, isn’t an indicator of the matchup that lies ahead. The Bearcats are a different team since that point in time. So are the Hornets.

“We talked about just finishing as the 10th seed,” Meyer said. “We believe that 10th isn’t that far away from one, two, or whatever. You look at the games throughout the season, we were in a lot of games. I don’t think there’s as big a gap as maybe people think.”

The defense Emporia presented the first go-around was a zone that troubled the Bearcats’ ability to drive the lane, a staple of their offense. That, junior forward Mallory McConkey said, is something that she’s now looking forward to playing against.

The matchup, Meyer said, is one that the Bearcats have to quickly get ready for.

“We talked to them in the locker room, it was a great win and we want to be excited,” Meyer said. “But it’s kind of like, ‘Let’s go, we’ve gotta move on now.’ I know our kids, they were excited to play (against Central Oklahoma) and they’ll be excited tomorrow.”

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