Ahead of the Northwest women’s basketball matchup against Kansas Christian, coach Austin Meyer preached the toughness of his defense that had earned the Bearcats their first win of the season Nov. 9 against Minnesota Crookston.
That same defense, coupled with an offense that saw four Bearcats score in double figures, willed Northwest (2-1) to a 90-22 win over Kansas Christian (1-3) in Bearcat Arena Nov. 13.
The opponent, Meyer said, didn’t matter. What mattered was winning in the home opener and sticking to the defense that’s now won the Bearcats two games.
“We said going into the game that we didn’t care if we were playing an NAIA team, Division 1 team, whoever it is, we had to do the things that made us better,” Meyer said. “Anytime you’re not out there practicing good habits, you’re regressing.”
For the Bearcats, the 90 points scored is the most since Northwest defeated Lincoln 98-77 Feb. 25, 2017. That was, in part, due to the all-around success that the Bearcats showed from the three-point line.
The largest margin of victory of the Meyer era was due to the fact the Bearcats didn’t allow a point throughout the last 13 minutes and 23 seconds of the first half, leading to a 34-0 run before halftime.
“I’d like to say that we could get some more of those,” Meyer said. “We wanted to focus on what we do: guarding the ball, staying in our gaps, that’s the stuff that makes us better.”
The Bearcats’ offense ran almost exclusively from the perimeter. The live-or-die approach from deep kept them alive in a game that saw its closest contest at tip-off.
A game that saw Northwest shoot 38% in the first quarter and saw the same team shoot 58% in the second, came with a mark of 10 for 25 on three-pointers in the first half. The mirage continued into the second, where the Bearcats finished the game shooting 47% from three (18 for38).
It wasn’t the Bearcats’ plan to keep shooting from the outside, Meyer said. But as long as juniors Kylie Coleman, Jaelyn Haggard, and seniors Kendey Eaton and Erika Schlosser are hitting their shots, then the team, Meyer said, feels confident.
Northwest was led by Coleman, a junior guard, who tied a career-high with 18 points; a performance that saw her score more points in 14 minutes of play than the previous two games combined (10). The scoring outbreak, Coleman said, was due to the success that her teammates were having.
“I think my teammates were doing a great job of setting me up with shots,” Coleman said. “We just shared the ball really well tonight so that’s awesome.”
Coleman was accompanied in double-figures by junior guards Zoie Hayward (17), Haggard (15) and freshman forward Paityn Rau (10).
The focus now for Northwest, Hayward said, is on Maryville University (1-1), the Bearcats’ Nov. 17 opponent in Bearcat Arena.
Hayward and Coleman have never been a part of the program when the Bearcats have defeated the Saints. A 20-point loss their freshman year, coupled with a 9-point loss a season ago, leaves the duo seeing two losses in their time as Bearcats. That, Hayward said, is something Northwest will change this time around.
“This is a team that we’re really able to compete with,” Hayward said. “It’s a game we can win. … We’re gonna win.”