With only six regular-season games left of the Northwest women’s basketball schedule, the Bearcats look to enter the offseason on a high note.
After receiving losses on the road to conference opponents Lindenwood and Lincoln, Northwest (7-15, 3-10 MIAA) is setting its sights on the road ahead. Positivity, grit and determination are the focus to send this senior class of Bearcats onto life without basketball and play these last six games with this mindset.
“These seniors have been through quite a bit with multiple coaching changes with some hard wins and losses,” coach Austin Meyer said. “They’re great kids, and we want to finish strong for them.”
Being only two games out of the conference race to be seeded in the 2019 MIAA tournament, Northwest knows what’s at stake when stepping on the floor to compete in these final games. Six games that take place in the gantlet that is MIAA basketball.
“I hope this game can get us motivated,” Meyer said. “This league is so good and having the opportunity to play Fort Hays, a top-five team in the country, but for us, it’s just to go in and play with confidence and know we can compete in this upcoming game against Central Missouri.”
Northwest prepares to square off with the Jennies twice in the next seven days with the second matchup taking place Feb. 21 in Warrensburg, Missouri. Central Missouri brings many threats to the table with size and shooting ability that has proven to be a tough feat to overcome for the Bearcats during the 2018-19 season.
Northwest will welcome Southwest Baptist to Maryville Feb. 16. Although being slotted last in the conference, Southwest Baptist scores the second most points per game in the MIAA and has three starters who average double-digits for the team.
“To win these games, we have to play hard for the full 40 minutes,” sophomore guard Mallory McConkey said. “We kind of play like a roller coaster through games, having really good defensive possessions, and then it goes down. So, just putting it all together will help us get these wins.”
Like the Jennies, Northwest will compete against Southwest Baptist multiple times during the two-week period, traveling to Boliver, Missouri, Feb. 23.
“Central Missouri is the defending national champions, and we know both games are going to be tough but are definitely winnable,” McConkey said. “If we go out and play like I know we can, then I see us winning both of these games.”
Putting wins and losses aside, Northwest holds the second-best free throw percentage in the nation, shooting 80.4 percent from the charity stripe.
Junior guard Kendey Eaton leads the Bearcats with a 94 percent percentage on the season, making 47-of-50 free throw attempts. In addition, sophomore guard Jaelyn Haggard, senior forward Kaylani Maiava and McConkey are all shooting above 80 percent.
Results from Wednesday’s matchup with Central Missouri were not available upon publication. Visit nwmissourinews.com for a recap of the game.