After the first round of the MIAA Women’s Basketball Conference Tournament, Missouri Western jogged off the court having just been out rebounded by 17 and shot only 31 percent from the field. They won.
Missouri Western was able to beat Nebraska-Kearney Wednesday night despite an unusual box score by basketball standards.
“It wasn’t a great shooting night for us,” head coach Rob Edmisson said. “Typically, when you shoot like that you’re going home, but our defensive traveled with us today, and we really had it on lock down.”
What may get lost in the box score is Missouri Western had 14 steals and forced Nebraska-Kearney into 25 turnovers. In comparison, Missouri Western only had eight turnovers.
“Everything was about defense for us tonight,” Edmisson said. “I thought first-half we were probably as good as we’ve been all year long, defensively. We just made things hard, and I think the turnover margin was hard for them to overcome.”
Missouri Western took command from the start in this game. After trailing 4-2 early, they went on a 14-2 run to close out the first quarter. It was the only quarter all game in which Missouri Western shot over 40 percent from the field.
Missouri Western kept the pressure in the second quarter as they forced Nebraska-Kearney into nine turnovers and took a commanding 30-16 lead into halftime. Senior point guard Melia Richardson led all scorers at the half with 10 points. She also added three first-half steals.
The game did get closer in the second-half as Missouri Western’s shooting troubles caught up to them. Nebraska-Kearney went on a 9-2 run in large part due to a nearly seven-minute scoring drought for Missouri Western. Nebraska-Kearney was able to cut the lead to four points with 20 seconds left, but Missouri Western was able to make their free throws late and secure the win, 55-47.
Senior Brittany Atkins knows how important it is to keep the team in mind, even when the shots are not falling.
“It wasn’t a great shooting night for me, but I’m not a selfish player,” Atkins said. “I know I still had to get to mid-line, still had to get rebounds. I really wasn’t thinking about my shots, but more so, what can I do since my shots aren’t falling.”
Atkins added eight rebounds, two assists, a block and a steal to go with her 12 points, filling up the stat sheet. Richardson led all scorers with 15 points, six steals and three assists. Richardson looked very comfortable on the court.
“I’ve been lucky to be here every year I’ve been in college,” Richardson said. “A lot of people get (to the conference tournament), and they freak out. I just chill.”
Richardson played all but the final three seconds, when the game was in hand. While playing so much in a tournament may be concerning to some, Richardson just continues to do what coach asks of her.
“I don’t even think about that, to be honest,” Richardson said. “If (Edmisson) needs me to play 50 minutes, I’ll play 50 minutes. My legs are just going to keep going.”
Missouri Western now prepares to play the one-seed in the tournament, Fort Hays State. Missouri Western lost by three (60-57) in their prior matchup. Edmisson knows his team is up for the challenge and that they will take advantage of the opportunity to play another game.
“We’re experienced, we’ve been here,” Edmisson said. “I’ve got kids that have played here, so they understand the environment, they understand the magnitude of it and they don’t look past things. They’ve earned 40 more minutes and we are going to make the most of those 40 minutes.”
Missouri Western plays Fort Hays State Thursday, March 7 at 6:00 p.m. in Municipal Auditorium.