Trojans open tournament swinging

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Justin Chapman | Echo

All the women’s basketball team needs is one more win. After their recent victory Tuesday over Mount Vernon Nazarene, the Trojans now own 22 wins this season. One more win, and they match their win total from 2006–07, when they held a record of 23–12.

Taylor led early on against Mount Vernon Nazarene, claiming a 35–20 lead half-way through the second quarter. However, the Cougars fought back and trimmed Taylor’s lead down to four early in the third quarter.

Once sophomore guard Jamie Netzley hit a two pointer to bring the lead to 19 late in the third quarter, the Trojans never let their lead get below 18 for the rest of the game.

The Trojans ended up winning by 22 points on their 22nd win of the season, with the final score ending up at 78–56. This is also their first win in a conference tournament since the 2008–09 season.

“Every day we look forward to seeing each other in practice,” said head coach Jody Martinez. “Everyone’s just motivated for improvement. Because of that, I think having 22 wins this season is remarkable in itself, but people got to realize these girls play the toughest schedule in NAIA.”

Junior forward Kendall Bradbury thanks Martinez for a revival within herself to continue her passion of playing basketball. After last season, Bradbury was struggling with her desire to continue playing.

Bradbury said Martinez showed her why the game of basketball is exciting and why it is truly a game, not something Bradbury should be dreading. She believes the chemistry between the team and Martinez is thriving.

Out of the Trojans’ nine losses this season, five of them are from teams who were ranked in the NAIA top 25. Taylor faced 10 ranked teams and ended up with a record of 5–5 against them.

With the NAIA National Tournament looming, it seems like No. 18 Trojans hold a very good chance of making the tournament with their impressive resume.

Bradbury, who recently broke the Taylor women’s basketball record for most points in a regular season with 695 points, knows it’s important for this program to finally achieve a victory for the first time in a while in the postseason.

“The feeling was great,” Bradbury said. “I don’t think anybody would have expected us to have a season like we did this year after the past couple (of) years that we’ve had. It was an awesome feeling.”

Bradbury’s scoring this year is a big factor to why they are so successful. Bradbury is second in the nation in points per game with 23.26 and she is leading the nation with total points at 721. She knows her role on the team is scoring, however she is confident in letting her teammates take shots whenever two defenders start guarding her.

Taylor will play Indiana Wesleyan today, and sophomore guard Abby Buchs knows Indiana Wesleyan really hurt the Trojans in the paint the past few times Taylor has faced the Wildcats. She said the team’s focus will be on making sure Indiana Wesleyan does not beat them inside.

“We always have a stretch in the game where our shots aren’t falling, but just focus on those like five to ten minutes of just straight defense, being able to still get shots even if we’re not scoring,” Buchs said. “And really just out tough them.”

The last time Taylor played against Indiana Wesleyan, shooting presented itself as an issue as well. The Trojans only shot 35.2 percent from the field and 29.4 percent from behind the arc. The series between the Trojans and Wildcats is knotted up at 1–1 this season.

The No. 18 Trojans will head to Marion, Indiana today to face No. 15 Indiana Wesleyan in the Crossroads League Semifinals. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

“Photograph by Brad Timmerman”