As Northwest women’s basketball enters the latter part of the 2018-19 MIAA conference season, the gamut of opponents standing in the way continues to weigh down on the Bearcats’ shoulders.
After suffering two home losses at the hands of Pittsburg State (17-4, 9-3 MIAA) and Missouri Southern (12-10, 4-8 MIAA) in Bearcat Arena, Northwest (7-13, 3-8 MIAA) prepares for a weekend road stretch with hopes to get back to winning ways.
Thus far, the Bearcats have seemed to be more comfortable playing in their opponents’ gym than competing at home. Northwest has secured all three of its conference wins while playing in hostile environments while still searching for its elusive first home victory in the MIAA.
“We seem to shoot better when we are on the road,” coach Austin Meyer said. “I haven’t been able to put a finger on why yet, but I hope we can go in there and just play with confidence.”
With Lindenwood being the first opponent of the road trip for the Bearcats, Northwest will enter the contest looking for revenge after the Lions left Maryville with a 15-point victory in their last match-up, beating Northwest 72-57 Dec. 8.
Many coaches find it advantageous to play a specific team more than once during the course of a season due to a better comfort and confidence level during the second game. For Meyer and his staff, this isn’t the case.
“You can go back and watch the last game on film and make adjustments, but they can do the same thing too,” Meyer said. “I think they’re a team that is playing pretty well, and it’s going to be a huge challenge, but we just got to go in there and be ready to play.”
A key factor in the first game between the MIAA foes was Lindenwood tallying 41 rebounds, while Northwest recorded only 17. This has been a large obstacle for the Bearcats for much of the season due to their lack of size.
The answer thus far to the rebounding feat has been sophomore guard Mallory McConkey. During the last two outings, McConkey has brought down 27 boards, notching 18 against Missouri Southern. This is tied for eighth in school history for most rebounds in a game.
“I was pretty disappointed with how I played against Pittsburg State, and I wanted to come back from it and just play harder,” McConkey said. “I like playing the four and being able to go in an attack the rebounds.”
Regarding the Feb. 9 matchup against Lincoln, the Blue Tigers are 1-10 in the MIAA but will still pose to be a tough opponent for the Bearcats. Lincoln is very strong in the size category with its forwards down on the low block. Northwest will again have to rely on McConkey to have a strong game on the offensive and defensive glass.
A strong point of emphasis for Meyer and his athletes during the rest of this season has been to have good, positive energy when going into games. This is something that Northwest continues to strive for and work on.
“We have shown clips on film, addressed some issues and even had a team meeting to make a point with everybody to come with energy,” Meyer said. “I have had bad body language and have gotten frustrated at times, and if I am going to preach that, we’ve got to have good energy as a staff too.”