By Paige Carswell
If statistics hold up in the upcoming game for the women’s basketball team, it looks like it’ll be a fight to the finish.
The Lady Builders will face their second major test of the season at 6 p.m. Thursday when they host Kansas Wesleyan University. The two teams are tied for second place in the Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference with records of 7-1. KWU is ranked 24th in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and Southwestern is receiving votes.
Here’s what the coaches have to chew on until tipoff:
The Builders are currently ranked first in the nation in three-point defense percentage (0.218), but the Coyotes come in eighth in the nation in the number of three-point field goals per game with eight. On the other hand, the SC women come in ninth in steals per game with over 14 and KWU comes in 16th in assist-to-turnover ratio (0.600). Southwestern has rebounding, but KWU has blocks. The Coyotes are ranked in scoring offense, but the Builders are ranked in scoring defense.
And so forth.
“It’ll be an interesting matchup of styles,” said Jason VenJohn, assistant women’s basketball coach. “They push the tempo really well. They take care of the ball. We’re going to have to continue to play good defense like we’ve been playing.”
Both teams’ only loss in the KCAC has come to Sterling College. Southwestern lost 80-61 in early December: KWU lost 83-72 Jan. 9.
“It should be a really good matchup,” said VenJohn. “It’ll be a battle just like it was when Tabor came down here. All of our league games are important now.”
This will be the first of the women’s two meetings with KWU. The second will be their last conference match-up Feb. 20.
The women started out ahead of the Bethany Swedes Jan. 16 and never looked back. The Lady Builders stayed on top the entire game, finishing 77-54 over the Bethany women.
The women scored 15 straight points in the first half with no answer from the Lady Swedes, putting them up 30-8. Jordan Jarnagin, senior guard, started the run with a three-point shot. She had 10 points in the first half to help lead the women to a 43-24 lead going into the locker room.
Defensive pressure caused Bethany to take rushed shots in the first half, forcing 18 first-half turnovers. The Lady Swedes wouldn’t slow down until the second half, when they brought the score within 15 points of the Builders but just couldn’t catch up enough.
The women were again led by Jasmine Manuel, junior guard, with 16 points. Catherine Haikin, sophomore guard, had 13 points and Jarnagin ended with 11. They outrebounded Bethany 50-35, had 11 steals and shot 40 percent from the field.
The Lady Builders held onto a second-half spark to overcome sixth-placed Tabor College 62-54 Jan. 14 in Stewart Field House.
After a two-point halftime deficit, the women struggled to gain control over the game.
“I just told them we had to settle down a little bit,” said Dave Denly, head women’s basketball coach. “We weren’t playing at the energy level we needed to be, and I think that picked up in the second half.”
A back-and-forth battle for the lead ended with 10 minutes left, when the women went on 15-point streak to put themselves ahead 56-42 over the Lady Bluejays.
The women outperformed Tabor in assists (16-14) and steals (20-4), but were outrebounded 34-28 and were held to only eight offensive rebounds—a drop from their average of 18 per game.
“I give Tabor a lot of credit,” said Denly. “They really focused on keeping us off the glass. This is the first time in a long time we’ve been outrebounded.”
The women were led by Jasmine Manuel, junior guard, with 26 points, but the offensive spark in the second half came largely due to the strategic points of Annjelina Robinson, freshman guard. Robinson scored six consecutive points to put the women up 41-38 with just over 10 minutes left in the game. She ended with eight points.
“She’s a freshman kid who just keeps getting better,” Denly said. “She’s really developing as a player.”
Paige Carswell is a junior majoring in journalism. You may e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.