The Lady Cats headed into the weekend with a 4-1 record, their only loss being their first game of the season. Between Friday and Saturday, the team was able to add another two wins to their record.
Head coach Becky Mullis said she knew the games would be tough ones, but she’s proud of her team’s performance both nights.
“We’ve played a tough schedule,” Mullis said. “Excluding Evangel, all of our opponents have either been ranked or receiving votes. So, we’ve played a tough schedule and we’ve withstood that very well.”
Friday vs Bellevue
On Friday, the Lady Cats faced the Bellevue University Bruins. The Bruins entered the weekend with a 4-2 record. As far as records go, it appeared it would be a pretty even match between both teams.
Both teams fought one another off for nearly a minute, before the Lady Cats put up their first two points off a shot from senior Aleksei Smith.
A little over a minute later, neither team had put up any additional points.
A defensive foul from sophomore Annie Noah gave the Bruins an opportunity to tie it up at the free throw line, but they only made one. The Lady Cats maintained their lead.
They outshot the Bruins 12-9 in the first quarter. For the remainder of the first half, the Lady Cats never let their lead slip. They outshot their opponent once again in the second quarter 21-15.
At the half, the Lady Cats had a 33-24 lead.
Coming back from the half, each team put up quite a battle. The Bruins hit a basket first, and the teams seemed to take turns shooting for the next minute and a half. It was only after a defensive foul from the Bruins gave junior Abby Oliver an opportunity to increase the Lady Cats’ lead once again.
After allowing the Lady Cats to climb back to a 13 point lead, the Bruins seemed to find their groove with just under a minute and a half left in the third quarter.
“They made a run in the second half,” Mullis said. “We withstood it well. They’re a tough, physical team. It’s always a battle when we play them, so I thought we withstood that physicality really well.”
In the last quarter, the Lady Cats led by only five.
The Bruins could have easily scored a couple of three-pointers to give them the lead for the first time. But the Lady Cats battled and never allowed the Bruins to come any closer than four points to the lead.
They ended the game with a 69-60 win, after battling their way back to a nine point lead.
Abby Oliver led the team with 23 points.
“Abby played really well,” Mullis said. “I think she did a good job of letting the game come to her. She got some really good open looks and took them and nailed them. She also had some really great drives. I just thought she played a good all-around game.”
Saturday vs Lyon College
Saturday’s opponent, the Lyon College Scots, had only played two games before playing the Lady Cats. They had won both of those games, but their two-game winning streak came to an end Saturday afternoon.
The Lady Cats beat the Scots 74-62. They led their opponent in points scored in all quarters but the third, where the teams each scored 20 points.
Junior Abby Oliver led the team in points scored once again. She put up 21 of the teams 74 points. Freshman Kayley Frank put up 14 of her own. The two were the only Lady Cats to put up double digits in Saturday’s matchup.
Mullis said the team knew what a player Oliver is when they recruited her.
“She can beat you off the dribble,” Mullis said. “She’s got a good jumper, she can hit the three, she’s just a terrific all-around player and she’s playing like it.
What makes me most proud of her is she’s letting the game come to her rather than trying to force things or create things, she’s just letting it happen and has been really successful as a result.”
Saturday’s win gave the Lady Cats a six game winning streak. Mullis said the streak feels nice, but it hasn’t come without hard work.
After dropping their first game of the season to Southeastern 74-56, the Lady Cats have won the next six by at least a margin of four – but they’ve won half of those by a margin of 10 or more.
Mullis added the team still has a tough schedule ahead of them, but has enjoyed seeing the growth over the first seven games.
“I just feel like we’ve held our own,” Mullis said. “We’re relatively young and we’re still kind of finding our way in a lot of aspects, but I feel like we’ve grown tremendously since the first game.”