The 16th-ranked Emporia State women found themselves struggling on the defensive side of the ball on Thursday night.
Fortunately, Tre’Zure Jobe and the Lady Hornet offense was up to the challenge.
In spite of allowing a season-high 12 3-pointers to Northwest Missouri State, ESU got 26 points from Jobe and held up under a fourth-quarter run to defeat the Bearcats, 79-66 on Thursday night.
“I thought it was a great win by our players,” ESU Head Coach Toby Wynn said. “Watching them on film, they made me nervous, just seeing them play. I knew how well-coached they were ... how good they were. They’ve got players who can really spread the floor and shoot the basketball from the 3-point line. It was going to be a tough matchup for us. Some teams, just the way their personnel matches into what you do, makes it a little bit tougher. (NWMSU is) one of those teams that does that to us.”
Jobe gave ESU the lead less than a minute into play, but the Lady Hornets couldn’t shake the Bearcats, as the margin stayed within six points or less for a strong majority of the first half.
Even when the Lady Hornets stretched it to 10 with two minutes before the break, NWMSU answered with a 5-0 run to cut its deficit in half before the intermission.
ESU used the breather to
“Coach came in and challenged us on defense,” senior Morgan Laudan said. “We only had two steals and getting steals is kind of our M.O. Putting more pressure on those guys really helped us go on a run (late).”
The run didn’t come until the fourth as the Bearcats finally got to use one of their primary weapons in the third quarter. Junior guard Jaelyn Haggard played just six minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, but came out in the second half and took it to ESU, scoring 12 of her season-high 19 after the break. She went 4-for-7 from 3-point range during that span.
NWMSU used a near-fluid dribble-drive attack, which more often than not allowed a shooter to find an opening from long range.
“We knew that was something they’d be able to do, spread us out and be able to attack and drive,” Wynn said. “We were going to have to hopefully do a good job of one, not fouling them when they went to the basket. And two, we had to try to make sure (to) make it as difficult as possible (to score).
ESU stretched its advantage to 11 at the outset of the fourth, but two 3-pointers led an 8-0 run to reduce it to a 62-59 ballgame.
The Bearcats then proceeded to throw the ball — and not coincidentally, any chance at a win — away with a series of turnovers. Seven of NWMSU’s 14 came in the final 10 minutes.
“They just have some ... really good shooters that can spread the floor and we ... for a little bit, were having trouble finding the matchup there,” Laudan said. “I think it was just (about) communicating the right (way) and we got it figured out there at the end.”
The 79 points for Emporia State was the highest total the Bearcats had allowed this season, including an overtime contest on Nov. 30.
“For our players to make some adjustments on the fly and to make some changes throughout the course of the game, just hang in there, keep it together and make the plays we needed to make, I’m super proud of them,” Wynn said. “For us to go get 79 on them is a huge accomplishment for our team.”
The Lady Hornets remained undefeated in MIAA play and are scheduled to host Missouri Western on Saturday afternoon.
“What we did in the second half, we’ve just to keep that momentum for (Friday practice) and Saturday,” Jobe said.
NWMSU 15 17 19 15 — 66
ESU 21 16 22 20 — 79
Northwest Missouri (8-6, 3-2): Rau 4-6 0-0 8, Stillman 0-2 0-0 0, Haggard 7-14 0-0 19, Eaton 3-10 2-2 9, Schlosser 4-9 0-3 11, Coleman 2-5 3-3 9, McConkey 2-3 1-2 5, Green 1-3 2-2 5.
Emporia State (11-2, 4-0): Laudan 6-12 0-0 15, Handy 2-4 3-4 9, Jobe 10-14 5-8 26, Martin 4-5 0-0 10, Mounsey 6-12 2-3 15, Garcia Laffitte 0-0 0-0 0, Schultz 0-3 0-0 0, Sheats 0-4 4-4 4, Gordon 0-0 0-0 0.
Three-pointers- NWMSU: 12-33 (Stillman 0-1, Haggard 5-11, Eaton 1-5, Schlosser 3-8, Coleman 2-5, Green 1-3), ESU: 9-23 (Laudan 3-7, Handy 2-2, Jobe 1-3, Martin 2-3, Mounsey 1-5, Schultz 0-2, Sheats 0-1.
Rebounds: NWMSU- 27 (Coleman 6), ESU- 29 (2 with 6); Assists: NWMSU 18 (2 with 7), ESU 13 (Jobe 7).
Fouled Out- NWMSU: Stillman, Eaton; ESU: None.