Northwest (0-2) played in its season opener Nov. 9 as it traveled to Nebraska to take on Wayne State. The Wildcats racked up 25 wins in their 2017-2018 season and proved to be a force within the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference a year ago.
Junior guard Kendey Eaton led the way for Northwest in the early season matchup, scoring a team-high 17 points and eight assists. Sophomore guards Jaelyn Haggard and Mallory McConkey also had notable performances, both scoring in double figures with 16 and 12 points respectively. The Bearcats shot 7-of-8 from behind the arch and made 9-of-11 free throw opportunities.
In the end, Wayne State proved to be too much for the ‘Cats in all aspects of the game. Sophomore forward Erin Noring led the Wildcats with 21 points while sophomore guard Haley Vesey tallied a game-high eight rebounds, adding to a total of 45 rebounds for Wayne State. The Bearcats fell short 75-58 and dropped their opening game of the season.
“Rebounding has been an emphasis for us due to our lack of size, and I was pretty disappointed with our numbers in game one,” Meyer said. “Wayne State had a really good front line and we challenge them to play tougher, but just couldn’t get it done.”
In a quick turn around, Northwest played in its second test of the year at a neutral site against Minnesota Crookston in Wayne, Nebraska. The Bearcats were again led by Eaton who was the top scorer in the game with 26 points. Senior Kaylani Maiava and Haggard also had double-digit point totals with 12 and 10, respectively.
The Golden Eagles ability to score in the paint proved to be too much for the Bearcats, as they outscored Northwest 40-26 within 15 feet of the rim.
“We played really well for three full quarters, but our biggest weakness was when we found trouble trying to score. We let it affect our defense,” Meyer said. “I was proud of our energy and the way our bench impacted the game, but we just got to find a way to play consistently for four quarters.”
The Golden Eagles eventually came out victorious as they rallied to win the game 79-71 over the Bearcats and handed them their second loss of the season.
Northwest will head into its home opener on Nov. 14 as it hosts the College of Saint Mary (Nebraska). The Flames come into Bearcat Arena at 1-6 on the season and looking to snap a 3-game losing skid.
“We are just going to go out and just be confident in what we are running and in our defense,” senior Mallory McAndrews said. “We need to have that mindset that we can do it and put together a full four-quarter gameplan to close out a ballgame.”
The Bearcats are 4-0 all-time when playing Saint Mary and have only squared off against the Flames one time in the last 29 years.
Results from Wednesday night’s matchup with Saint Mary (1-6) were not available upon publication.