Women’s basketball season starts positive

With two wins and one loss, the Wildcats are off to a good start to the season

Evelyn Knox, Staff Writer

The Wayne State women’s basketball team opened up its season at Santiago Canyon College in Orange, California, in the Division II Women’s Basketball Tip off Classic. The Wildcats ended the weekend 2-1.

“This is a huge opening weekend for us,” senior Paige Ballinger said. “We need to start the season off strong if we really want to do something special this year. Last year we came up short, so this year we want to limit mistakes to be as successful as possible.”

The Wildcats opened up the weekend by facing Young Harris College, located in Georgia, with a huge 77-49 victory Friday afternoon. Wayne State started out fast with a 17-0 first quarter lead before Young Harris scored for the first time at the 2:10 mark. Maggie Lowe scored on a 3-point play and a pair of 3-punters to give the ’Cats the edge in the first quarter.

The Wildcats scored the first seven points in the second half, to push the lead to 45-25. Twelve out of 15 Wildcats scored for Wayne State in the contest to end with a 77-49 win. Lowe was the only Wildcat in double figures by scoring 15 points. Kacie O’Connor, Andrea Larson and Brittany Bongartz followed with nine points each.

In the second game of the Tip Off Classic, Wayne State faced No. 16 Azusa Pacific in a 89-81 loss Saturday evening.

The Wildcats started off slow in the first quarter, shooting just two of 15 from the field, and trailing by double figures most of the first half. In the third quarter, Wayne State got as close as six points behind at 52-46 before Azusa Pacific went on a run late in the third with a 62-50 advantage. The Wildcats cut the lead back down to six several times throughout the fourth quarter, but Azusa Pacific got the win 89-81.

The Wildcats went 37.1 percent from the field including, five of 14 from 3-point range and also shooting 88 percent from the free-throw line.

Senior Maggie Schulte led Wayne State in scoring with an impressive game high of 35 points that was highlighted with shooting 18 of 20 from the free-throw line. Schulte was also credited 10 rebounds to compete the double-double.

Lowe and O’Connor each contributed three assists for Wayne State, while Ballinger had four of five blocked shots in the contest.

In the final game of the weekend, Wayne State cruised by Wisconsin Parkside Monday morning in a 99-56 win. The Wildcats shot 56 percent from the field in the contest.

Wayne State started out with a 32-13 first quarter lead, credited to shooting 14 out of 19 in the quarter, led by O’Connor with 11 points in the first.

“I knew we had to start out strong in order to win, as long as we were all on the same page,” O’Connor said.

The Wildcats maintained the lead for the remainder of the second quarter, going into halftime with a 52-27 lead. Freshman Erin Norling went 7 for 7 in the first half, shooting with 15 points at halftime. Wayne State maintained dominance throughout the third quarter with an 81-37 lead going into the fourth.

WSC held a 44-41 advantage in rebounding over Parkside for the game with help from Ballinger with seven boards and Bongartz with six. Norling led the Wildcats in scoring with 19 points and Larson followed with 14 points.

“Overall, this weekend was a great one,” Schulte said. “We have a ton of new players and we all learned a lot. This week we have to prepare and work on fundamentals before we play Kearney and leave for Colorado this weekend. It is very important to win the next few games.”

The Wildcats are back in action Saturday with a 4 p.m. away game against rivals Nebraska-Kearney.