Western women (1-0) at Northeastern State (1-0)
It’s quite possible the product the Missouri Western women put on the floor is much different as the weeks roll on.
But it was enough to get the job done Thursday as Candi Whitaker’s squad overcame an 18-point deficit to win 83-81 at Rogers State.
Due to COVID-19 quarantines, the Griffons (1-0) only had just more than a handful of practices with its entire roster available during the preseason. Still, the pieces all came together in the end.
With senior forward Kyra Hogan sidelined due to an injury, freshman Mary Fultz was tasked with a majority of guarding 6-foot-2 center Maya Buckhanon. The Memphis transfer scored just 10 points, grabbed four rebounds and was called for four fouls, while Fultz’s college debut resulted in 18 points, seven rebounds and three assists. Freshman point guard Camille Evans added 18 points, 10 rebounds and six assists.
Junior transfer Asia McCoy, who could eventually slide into a starting spot at forward, played just 10 minutes off the bench due to picking up two fouls in one minute in the first quarter but scored all seven of her points in the final six minutes.
Missouri Western now travels to Northeastern State on Saturday to face a RiverHawks team picked in the bottom three of the conference, though they defeated Northwest 64-56 on Thursday.
The Griffon guards will be tested by Zaria Collins and Cenia Hayes, who combined for 42 points and 16 rebounds. Only three other players scored the other 22 points.
Northeastern (1-0) sent Northwest to the free-throw line only four times and gave up just four fast-break points, two areas the Griffons will look to attack in with a faster, up-tempo style after scoring 20 points at the charity stripe at 18 more in transition.
The women will tip at 1 p.m. The men’s game was postponed due to COVID-19 within the Northeastern State squad.
Northwest men (0-0) at Rogers State (0-1)
The best MIAA game of the weekend pits the No. 1 Bearcats in their season opener against a top-three finisher from a year ago in the Hillcats.
Rogers State fell 68-55 in overtime to Missouri Western after missing the front end of two free throws with seven seconds remaining, leading to just a 20% clip from the field in overtime.
The Bearcats graduated just one player who played in the MIAA Tournament Championship in sharp-shooter Ryan Welty and will welcome sophomores Wes Dreamer and Luke Waters into the starting rotation full-time alongside national player of the year candidates Trevor Hudgins and Ryan Hawkins, as well as one of the nation’s top defenders and spark plugs in Diego Bernard. The Bearcats are 69-1 in the last two years and picked to win the MIAA behind their 45% team average from 3 and their ability to play defense and not give the ball away.
Rogers held Western to just 5-for-25 from 3 on Thursday, including 14 consecutive misses to open the game. Rogers, led by 14 points from Destin Eke and 12 from Devin Pullum, shot just 29% and 15.8% from 3-point range.
The Bearcats and Hillcats will tip off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday.
Northwest women (0-1) at Rogers State (0-1)
The Bearcats offense went cold in the final eight minutes of a 64-56 loss Thursday at Northeastern State as freshman Molly Hartnett was the lone player to make a basket during the span. She scored 22 with nine rebounds on the evening with Kylie Coleman chipping in 17 on 10 shots.
Northwest secured just 26 rebounds and gave up 11 offensive boards, leading to 14 second-chance points. Northwest was outscored 42-30 in the paint of 22-12 off turnovers despite shooting 49% from the field. The Bearcats attempted just four free throws.
They will take on a Rogers team that forced 19 turnovers and has plenty of size in the post and rotated 12 players. Guard Samariah Thompson led them with 23 points in a loss to Missouri Western with three others scored in double figures.
The game is scheduled for a 1:30 p.m. tip.