After an extended trip on the road, the Shawnee State womens team will be back in the Cave for the second time in three days today. So far, the friendly confines have been just that for the Bears, who knocked off Roberts Wesleyan 80-52 on Saturday.
Saturday was also a return for Becky Babione, who scored 23 points and pulled down 19 rebounds in the win. Today, the Bears will face Brescia (9-5), which will be one of those early tests for SSU, said head coach Robin Hagen-Smith.
“They're a very good team and they play in a tough league,” Hagen-Smith said. “They fight it out in the conference with Campbellsville and Lindsey Wilson. The league is strong, like the AMC.”
The Bears (9-1) will attempt to win their 10th straight game of the season today.
Brescia is a more guard-oriented team, led by 5-foot-8 senior Danielle Jenkins.
Though Brescia is quick, SSU will have the advantage in the post, which Hagen-Smith said the Bears will attempt to exploit. Against Roberts Wesleyan, the Bears played more of an inside-outside style, allowing the post players to kick it back out to the guards. Today, the depth SSU possesses in the paint should be able to benefit from the matchups.
“We just need to keep running our stuff,” Hagen-Smith said. “I think we can take away their strengths.”
The Bears will use a combination of Kelly Wagner or Alison Meyer on Jenkins to try and limit her effectiveness in slashing to the basket. Hagen-Smith said the Bears have been doing a good job of focusing on their opponents' strengths, in part because of assistant coach Todd Perdas' scouting.
“He does a phenomenal job. He works hard and he is very detailed in his preparation, Hagen-Smith said. “I feel like we're always at a plus-8 or plus-10 advantage because of his work.”
In the post, the Bears will have a number of players to choose from. Mallory Albers came off the bench with 16 points in the last game and Karen Diehl and Meyer also contributed 12 rebounds total. As for Babione, though a repeat performance might not strike twice, Hagen-Smith said she wouldn't be adverse to the junior pulling off a performance like that again.
Although the team will focus on taking away Brescia's guard play in Jenkins and Helen McKinney, who both average double digits, the Bears themselves must keep focus throughout the game and not have lapses, like the ones late in both halves against RWC. The Raiders cut the Bears' lead to 11 with five minutes left before SSU stopped the surge, with the help of six points from Meyer, and secured the win.
“I don't think our focus was where it needed to be (against Roberts Wesleyan),” Hagen-Smith said. “Our focus needs to be better.”
Tip-off is a 6 p.m.