After closing out the 2018-19 campaign with a win over MIAA conference-rival Washburn, Northwest women’s basketball enters the offseason on a high note with the goal of improvement.
Entering the matchup with the Bearcats (8-20, 4-15 MIAA) Feb. 28, Washburn came in at No. 4 in the conference standings, hoping to enter the MIAA tournament with a win over Northwest.
The Bearcats surged early, jumping out to a 13-0 lead over the Ichabods, finishing the first quarter with a commanding 16-4 lead. Scoring another 16 points in the second quarter, Northwest held a 32-21 lead going into the half.
As the possession arrow faced Washburn to begin the second half, the Ichabods came out of the locker room and began to claw back at the Bearcats’ lead, and at the end of the third, Northwest held a miniscule two-point lead, 49-47.
During the fourth quarter, the Bearcats were helped by sophomore guard Mallory McConkey, who led the team with a career-high 23 points on 8-of-10 shooting. McConkey nailed the go-ahead shot off the glass with 38 seconds remaining to win the game 72-70.
“We have struggled with confidence at times and making our shots, so when we can go into their place and win a game, it turns into a confidence booster,” coach Austin Meyer said. “Hopefully, we can carry it through the offseason and into next year.”
With the victory ending the regular season, Northwest snapped a 10-game losing streak while also erasing a winning-drought stretching 16 games in Topeka, Kansas, dating back to 1985.
Other notable standouts for Northwest included junior guard Kendey Eaton, who scored 20 points. Eaton went 2-for-2 from the charity stripe to increase her free throw percentage to 93.5, a new individual season record for Northwest. Sophomore guard Kylie Coleman also contributed 10.
The Bearcats finished the game against Washburn shooting 11-of-12 from the free throw line, solidifying Northwest in the No. 1 overall spot in free throw percentage as a team in Division II women’s basketball. Northwest averaged 80.9 percent on the season.
For seniors Mallory McAndrews, Kaylani Maiava and Maria Dentlinger, closing the yearbook as Bearcats with a triumph over a notable Washburn squad helped boost the program’s morale into the future.
“In the locker room at halftime, Meyer reminded us that we had nothing to lose, but that we still had the opportunity to end on a great note and better the program,” McAndrews said. “In the second half, we played together, had confidence and just enjoyed the game we love.”
Looking forward, Northwest looks to improve fundamentals during offseason workouts and be ready to compete in the gantlet that is the MIAA during the 2019-20 season. Meyer has made an effort to bring in signees to be a part of the next chapter of the women’s basketball program with success in mind.
“We are going to bring in a lot of new kids to add to the talented athletes already on our roster,” Meyer said. “I am extremely excited to move forward and think about the future of this program.”