Dec. 5, 2013
Women's Basketball drops conference openerBy David Boyce | Box Score | Photo Album
MARYVILLE, Mo. - Down by nine points late in the second half, Northwest Missouri State women’s basketball team refused to concede to Pittsburg State.
The Bearcats clawed their way back and had a chance to tie or win with the last possession. Unfortunately, Northwest failed to get off a good shot on two opportunities.
So what could have been a thrilling, come-from-victory turned into tough 57-55 loss for Northwest Thursday evening at Bearcat Arena in the MIAA opener for both teams.
“We can’t hang our heads,” Northwest coach Michael Smith said. “We have a one-day prep before we have Emporia State coming to town, playing on our home floor. We need to represent our home floor with the best of our abilities.”
All indications point to the Bearcats learning from this loss. In fact, they showed growth during the game. In the first half, they had 12 turnovers and never went to the free throw line.
“We made some turnovers in the first half that kind of put us in a bind,” Smith said. “We did a much better job in the second half of handling the basketball, but we can’t be a team that plays from behind. That will wear on you more mentally than physically, especially in a tough conference season we have ahead of us.”
Northwest reduced the turnovers to just three in the second half and made 12 of 14 from the line.
One of those misses came from junior Ashleigh Nelson with 24 seconds remaining that could have tied the game at 56-56.
But it was Nelson’s shooting from the field that gave Northwest an opportunity to win. She led all scorers with 18 points.
With a little under 7 minutes left, it looked very bleak for Northwest. The Bearcats trailed 52-43. At that point, Northwest picked up its defense and started creating a few turnovers.
“We all have the fight within ourselves to do it, but like coach said, we can’t play from behind,” Nelson said. “We have to be the team who is ahead and act like we are behind and play with the passion and energy as if we are down.”
Over the next 4 minutes, the Bearcats chipped away at its deficit and closed to 55-54 with 2:07 left. They just couldn’t come up with that one play to put them over the top.
“It was a little frustrating finding someone to step up and make a play for us to get us that lead,” Nelson said.
Both Smith and Nelson agreed that the game was really lost in the first half.
Despite going into halftime tied 28-28, Northwest put together one stretch in the latter part of the first half that gave a glimpse of what it can do when everything is in sync.
The Bearcats trailed 14-12 when they started reducing the enforced turnovers, played tough defense and had great ball movement.
A basket by Ariel Easton tied the game and Nelson gave the Bearcats their first lead since 3-2 when she made a bucket to make it 16-14 with 8:15 remaining in the first half.
After Pittsburg tied the game at 16-16, the Bearcats scored the next seven points for a 23-16 lead. Three different players scored during the run.
The Bearcats were not able to sustain that level of play and only scored five points in the final 6 minutes in the first half.
“If we could have stretched our lead, it would have been huge for us to go into the second half with a lead,” Nelson said.
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