By Emporia Gazette |

Hornets back on road to face Bearcats, Griffons | Sports | emporiagazette.com

The Emporia State basketball teams both will be looking to put Saturday behind them when they open up another MIAA road swing at Northwest Missouri State on Wednesday night.

For the Lady Hornets, the most painful trait of a double-overtime loss to Washburn was a third quarter in which the Ichabods turned a 10-point deficit into a lead by period’s end. In its three losses this season, ESU has been outscored 71-47.

That was something head coacy Toby Wynn and his players are adamant will be atop the ‘work-to-be-done’ list as the team prepares for its next road segment of the schedule.

In NWMSU, the Lady Hornets will face one of just four MIAA teams with an active winning streak as the Bearcats claimed a pair of wins at Northeastern State and Central Oklahoma over the weekend.

“They’re definitely a team that is full of confidence right now,” Wynn said on KVOE’s “Hornet Talk” Monday afternoon. “It’s the first time in eight years they’ve won back-to-back road games in the league. When you see that, it just builds all kinds of confidence (for them). They feel really good about where they’re at and how they’re playing.”

Against a fellow first-year head coach in the MIAA, Wynn has taken notice the improvement of Austin Meyer’s club, which was one of two teams to fall short of reaching the conference tournament last season.

“He’s just done a good job of making them believe they’re a good team and that they can compete,” Wynn said of Meyer, who served on the coaching staff for the Bearcat men for nearly a decade. “They’ve got good players and they know how to play well together and they do a good job on the defensive end.”

NWMSU, though last in the MIAA in points scored, is sixth in points allowed after coming out on top of two wins with a combined victory margin of seven.

Leading the way for NWMSU are guards Jaelyn Haggard and Kendey Eaton, the Bearcats’ leading scorers, both averaging 12-plus points per game.

“They have five different people that can score from the three-point line and three ... who are shooting right at 40 percent from three,” Wynn said. “So they’ll definitely be a challenge for us.”

NWMSU, though effective from three-point range trails the Lady Hornets, who pace the league in three-point-shooting and are among the MIAA leaders in points scored.

Seniors Addie Lackey, Emily Miller, Tyra Jones and junior Jessica Wayne are Emporia State’s leading scorers, with Lackey and Wayne having played on teams with deep postseason runs under their belt.

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“We need their experience to pull us through, too,” Wynn said. “We need them to understand during the course of a game, when we’re having a ... lull and things aren’t going our way, we’ve got to come together as a group and ... get this changed and corrected and going back the way we should.”

The Hornet men are fighting to remain on a similar trajectory, though their timetable is certainly different.

That was even more evident after suffering a 94-81 loss to Washburn, one of two MIAA teams that currently sit undefeated. ESU’s road doesn’t get easier as its next matchup will be against the other, second-ranked Northwest Missouri State, the conference’s leading team in scoring and defense.

“They’re rolling right now,” ESU head coach Craig Doty said on KVOE’s “Hornet Talk” on Monday. “It’s a good opportunity to go on the road and play ... then we’ll play a Missouri Western team that’s energized.”

The Bearcats, besides allowing fewer than 63 points per game, have three players scoring 18-plus per contest. That will provide plenty of troubles for a Hornet defense that has given up the most points in the conference.

“It doesn’t get any easier,” Doty said. “We’ve got a lot of work here this week as we prepare for two very tough MIAA road contests.”

Tipoff from Bearcat Arena is scheduled for 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.