Lady Blues pass test against No. 19 Jennies

Julie Knapp

The final tests of the semester are taking their toll on students all this week, but for the No. 1 Lady Blues their first test was handed out this weekend in the MIAA season opener against the No. 19 Jennies of Central Missouri State. Like any first test, the answers weren’t very sound, but good enough for the Lady Blues to pass, as they survived their first nail biter of the season defeating the Jennies 80-73

“They are a really good basketball team. To go on the road and play as well as they did. I thought they played well and hit some key shots, but I thought we responded well. I wasn’t worried about it, just anxious to see how we would do. We didn’t play our best, didn’t shoot our best, but offensively, luckily we just got the right shots to the right people at the right time,” said head coach Ron McHenry.

The Jennies did the best they could to knock off the Lady Blues taking the lead four times in the game, and cutting the deficit to just 4 with 37 seconds left in regulation. But the free throw line would be the Lady Blues savior, nailing 5 of 6 in the last minute and 82 percent for the game, totaling 24 points.

“Tonight was definitely a test for us. We knew they were going to be a strong team, returning eight players. So we knew it was a key for us to step up and play a better game tonight,” said junior guard Cindy Keeley.

The Lady Blues would be aggressive themselves racking up 11 personal fouls in the second half, including three that happened beyond the arc that allowed the Jennies three free throws each time.

“We tried to step up and make a play, it can go either way sometimes and it didn’t go our way tonight,” said Keeley.

Keeley had a career-high night with 13 points, four assists, three rebounds, two steals, and one block. Keeley leads the MIAA in assist-to-turnover ratio with a 4.20 rating.

“Would I call those the best plays we ever made? No. But I think we were trying to be aggressive. We have to make a good challenge on them, other wise they will make shots like they did the first half. They weren’t bad plays. They were hustle plays. They weren’t horrible plays. It just didn’t work,” said McHenry.

Saturday was the first time the Lady Blues were held below 40 percent from the field, shooting just 39 percent. But junior forward Brooke Ubelaker came to the rescue scoring a season high 27 points, including five baskets from beyond the arc.

The Lady Blues will need Ubelaker’s fire to continue burning this upcoming week as they face the NAIA 9-2, Benedictine Lady Ravens Wednesday, before hosting the No. 2 Drury Lady Panthers, Saturday. The Lady Blues should have no trouble with the Lady Ravens as they defeated the NAIA Baker Wildcats earlier this year 93-38. But Saturday, may be a different story especially with finals this week.

“That’s always a big thing having everyone study for finals. But I think it’s kind of one of those things that when it comes time to a game, comes time to practice, you just have to focus on basketball. When it comes time to play a game, we can’t let up and we just got to come out and play our game, so we’re ready for Saturday, especially, when Drury comes here,” said Keeley.

The No. 2 Lady Panthers are coming off a 29-2 2004-2005 season that included a trip to the NCAA Division II South Central Region tournament and a loss at home to none other than the Lady Blues. So when the five returning Lady Panthers, who are 8-0 so far this season, come to Topeka, you can be sure they’re out for revenge. But Lady Panthers head coach Nyla Milleson, was not too happy with her players performance in the 77-60 win over SIU Edwardsville Saturday.

“We’ve got some consistency to work on,” Milleson said. “Let’s put it this way, we’re going to have be a lot better a week from tonight, or it’s going to be a long night.”

The Lady Panthers will have all week to work on their consistency as their next outing is the Lady Blues on Saturday.