MARYVILLE, Mo. — After falling to Central Missouri 61 days ago, the Northwest Missouri State men’s basketball team exacted revenge on the Mules by a score of 81-47.
The win pushed the No. 1-ranked Bearcats (21-1, 11-1 MIAA) to their 13th-straight victory, while winning 46 of their last 47 MIAA home games.
Along with that, Northwest inflated its home-court win streak to 29-straight contests, while having won 67 of its last 69 overall home games.
“Down there it was just one of those games,” McCollum said about the first matchup with Central Missouri. “We had kids with injuries and some sickness and we just didn’t play well and they played well. Tonight we just played really well here.”
To start the game, the Cats made seven of their first 10 three-point shots to manufacture an early 31-14 lead over Central Missouri.
Aiding in the production of Northwest’s lead was redshirt freshman Luke Waters. The Olathe, Kansas, native made his first four shot attempts while collecting 11 of the team’s first 22 points.
Waters finished the game with 13 points in 18 minutes due to foul trouble.
Northwest’s two leading scorers, junior forward Ryan Hawkins and sophomore guard Trevor Hudgins, led the way once again for the Cats. For Hawkins, he collected his fifth double-double of the season, with 27 points and 11 rebounds.
“I feel like I was more patient this time,” Hawkins said about his performance Thursday compared to the first meeting. “I felt like I forced a lot the first time in Warrensburg but I think offensively we just moved the ball a lot better than what we did in the last matchup against them.”
Hudgins notched his 13th 20-point scoring contest on the season and added six assists. The Manhattan, Kansas, native didn’t attempt a two-point field goal in the contest.
“We were kind of motivated after we lost to them at their house,” Hudgins said. “We just came into this game well prepared, very focused and very motivated too. The whole week of practice we were focused and did everything great.”
Northwest shot 60.5 percent from the field and 55.2 percent from three-point range. But McCollum said there is still room for improvement after his team’s dominant win over their oldest rival.
“We’re getting better,” McCollum said. “We’ve just got to keep improving. I thought our defense made some jumps. We’ve got to keep that going in the right direction. The offense is continuing to grow. We shared the basketball a lot better.”
The women's team (10-11, 5-7 MIAA) fell to the No. 18-ranked Jennies 73-60. Once again, offensive rebounds and second-chance points plagued the Bearcats.
“We always say the good teams are pretty simple and you know what they’re going to do,” women’s head coach Austin Meyer said. “I think that’s how Central is. They run their motion offense, they score in the paint and they dominate the glass.”
Northwest allowed Central Missouri to grab 19 offensive rebounds that led to 20-second chance points.
“We’re not the biggest team on the floor across the board,” Meyer continued. “But it just comes down to not moving people out, not creating space and not going out and getting the ball.”
Junior guard Jaelyn Haggard was the leading scorer for the Bearcats with 16 points, including four three-pointers. For the third consecutive game, Haggard made four threes.
“I think offensively we did alright this game,” Haggard said. “That’s what was different than the first time we played them. … We played pretty decent defense in the first matchup and that’s kind of what hurt us this time around.”
Also in double-digits was junior guard Mallory McConkey. The South Nodaway High School graduate notched 11 points. Senior guard Erika Schlosser led the team with three assists.
The Bearcats shot 41.9 percent from the field and held the Jennies to 39 percent.
“This is a team we aspire to be,” Meyer said about Central Missouri. “Towards the top of the league, but we’re not there yet but we’re not that far.”