Youthful Baker women’s team off to fast start
Beginning the season 2-0 with a young team has made Baker University women's basketball coach Susan Decker happy.
The Wildcats defeated Missouri Baptist College and Kansas Wesleyan University in the Baker Classic last weekend.
"When you start the season, you never know how good your team is before you play anybody," Decker said. "I am pleased with how we played this weekend. Starting out the season 2-0, I am pretty pleased with where we are at now."
Senior Amanda Yates was thrilled to begin the season 2-0.
"It was really nice, because we are such a young team," Yates said. "Hopefully, this is a confidence builder. It showed that we could finish close games. It was also nice to start the season at home."
Yates is one of two seniors on the team to go along with four freshmen, four sophomores and three juniors. Decker said the home games were nice for her team.
"It helps with a young team to play in front of your home crowd," Decker said. "Our crowd was very good for both games. I was pleased with how our crowd showed up and supported us. It was nice to get two wins in front of them."
On Friday night, the Wildcats opened up their weekend with a close victory over Missouri Baptist, 67-62.
"We came out with a lot of intensity and were excited to play against someone other than each other," Yates said. "We came out strong and ready to play."
Baker shot 23 of 56, for 41 percent. The Wildcats did sink eight three-pointers in the game.
"The biggest difference in the game was that we shot the ball extremely well," Decker said. "They played a 3-2 zone the entire game and luckily our outside shots were falling. Sometimes that makes things a lot easier. We got some momentum rolling."
The Wildcats carried that momentum into Saturday, where they hung on to defeat Kansas Wesleyan 52-50.
"We were fortunate to play pretty well Friday night and win," she said. "Then on Saturday we played OK, but not as good as we did on Friday.
"We didn't execute our offense very well," Decker said. "We didn't get great shots and we forced a few things. Both teams defended hard, which shows in the low score we had."
Baker only made 14 of 46 shots, including two of 14 from three-point range. As a team, Baker shot 30 percent for the game.
Despite the lack of scoring, Decker was happy with her team's defensive effort.
"We didn't shoot the ball as well, but I thought we defended extremely well, especially in the half court," Decker said. "I thought our guards really defended well and shut down their best player. She had 20 points the night before and we held her to 10. I was pleased with that effort defensively."
She also hopes the two wins will help her team progress through the early season.
"Hopefully, we gained some confidence through that, because a young team can go either way with close games," Decker said. "For us to hold our composure, especially on Saturday, is a good sign from a young team."
Yates led the Wildcats in both games. On Friday, she scored 14 points and grabbed 11 boards. Then she came back with 15 points and 12 rebounds Saturday.
"It was a good way to start the season," Yates said. "It takes help from my teammates though. I couldn't do it without them."
Decker was proud of how her senior forward performed.
"Amanda Yates played very well," Decker said. "She had a double-double both nights. For her to come out and have a double-double in her first two games speaks pretty highly of her abilities. She really stepped up and played well."
Baker senior Molly Ediger and junior Lauren Shufelberger each added 16 points Friday night. The duo combined to sink six shots behind the arc.
Although the two wins are nice, Decker knows her team has lots of room to improve on the offensive side of the ball.
"There are a lot of things for us to improve on obviously," Decker said. "We don't have a whole lot of time, because we play Friday and Saturday. I think the thing we need to work on is executing and staying composed in our half-court offensive sets."
The Wildcats will next travel to Parkville, Mo., to play in the Park Classic this weekend. They will play Park University at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Ottawa University at 4 p.m. Saturday.