Wildcats look to take charge at home against SPU

Sadie Mensing shoots during a drill while her teammates work on boxing out.

Sadie Mensing shoots during a drill while her teammates work on boxing out.

Jack Lambert

Jack Lambert

Sadie Mensing shoots during a drill while her teammates work on boxing out.

Hanson Lee, Senior Sports Reporter

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CWU women’s basketball is gearing up for a match at home against Seattle Pacific University (SPU) on Thursday, Feb. 1. With a 6-2 record at home this season, the Wildcats are aiming to continue their home-court success.

“Right now we’ve really had a focus on our defense and so we’re defending really well,” head coach Randi Richardson-Thornley said. “Last [time] we played SPU we struggled offensively, which is a little bit surprising because that’s been where our strength has been this year.”

Coming off a four game winning streak, the Wildcats are in a good position as a team to build and get even stronger. With an overall record of 12-8, the team has consistently been able to make improvements throughout the season and has potential down the stretch.

“We’ve improved a lot… I think the most encouraging thing is that we still have a lot of room to grow and areas to improve,” Richardson-Thornley said.

With a 16-3 record on the season, one of the primary challenges that SPU presents on the floor is their top-notch defense, something that the Wildcats are looking to heavily prepare for ahead of this upcoming match-up.

“We have to be able to deal with their pressure,” Richardson-Thornley said. We have to] “stay calm and not allow them to force us out of what we do.”

Sophomore guard Alexis Pana has had a considerable impact on the floor for the Wildcats this season. Pana hopes to continue her success against a highly formidable SPU team.

Pana emphasized the importance of coming out strong as a team in their upcoming game and how being more confident isn’t just a goal for her, it’s a goal for the team.

“Our goal is to come out strong and shoot confidently,” Pana said.

Ahead of Thursday’s match-up, SPU’s high-octane defense isn’t the only focus for this team. The Wildcats have much more to improve upon, both offensively and defensively.

Boxing out, rebounding and “getting up on the floor” are areas Pana said the team needs to work on.

Another standout sophomore on the team this year has been guard Kaelie Flores. Like Pana, Flores also worked her way into a starting role for the Wildcats this season.

“Hopefully we can get stops on defense and play our game that we know how to on offense,” Flores said. “We’ve been scoring over 70 and almost 80 [points] almost every game, so hopefully just this game we can focus on defense.”

Over the course of the season, the Wildcats have worked hard on turning a strong defense into a strong offense. With this being a central focus for the team this year, they’ve been trying to approach the season by getting one win at a time.  

“We’ve been having very defensively-focused practices,” Flores said. “[We’re] focusing in and making sure we’re getting the wins that we know we can get.”

Flores said one of the struggles that has plagued the Wildcats over the course of the season has been being able to put together and play all four quarters. She also outlined what her and her teammates need to do better against SPU in order to play high-quality basketball the entire game.

The Wildcats will have a good shot “if we stop their shooters and stop their guards from penetrating, and we work on our team defense,” Flores said. “Just coming out with energy and high intensity the whole time.”

The game will tip off at 5 p.m. in Nicholson Pavilion on Thursday evening as part of a doubleheader. The game will also be televised live on ESPN 3 as a part of ESPN’s live game coverage.



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Wildcats look to take charge at home against SPU