Written by Kayla Bogs
Both the men’s and women’s basketball teams are coming out of an exciting weekend of play here at Southwestern. The teams battled Sewanee and Ogelthorpe to make for four exciting games.
“This year has definitely been a learning season, since we had a lot of people leave the program in the past two year,” senior Natasha Azizi said. “Every day people are learning more and more how we want to play Southwestern basketball.”
This proves true for the women’s basketball here at Southwestern. Now with a 5-13 overall record, the women had a bittersweet weekend. They started out with a match against the number fifth ranked team in the nation, Ogelthorpe. After a tough half, the Pirates were down by only one point at halftime.
“We knew we could compete with them if we played with heart,” sophomore guard Jennifer Tindle said. “Our strategy was to use our size advantage in the post and keep the tempo slow which targeted both of their weaknesses.”
“We planned to take them out of their run and gun style,” head coach Pam Ruder said. “We tried to make them uncomfortable and take them into a slower style of play.”
The Pirates ended the game after tough competition. Ogelthorpe came out on top with a score of 63-47. Leading scorer for Southwestern was Natasha Azizi with fifteen points.
“We held with them for the first half, but unfortunately we were unable to fend them off for the entire game,” Tindle said. “Regardless, it was a well-fought match.”
After the loss against Ogelthorpe, the Lady Pirates took on Sewanee Saturday with the loss out of their minds ready to start with a clean slate.
The Pirates’ defense proved to be too much for Sewanee.
“Our defense was definitely there; I think we held them to under ten in the first half,” Tindle said.
With this defense the Pirates held the Tigers to a 20.3% shooting percentage and only 12.5% behind the arc. The Pirates had ten steals, three from Natasha Azizi, and kept only two Sewanee players to scoring double digits.
“Against Sewanee, we were able to get in the paint and defensively were able to take them out of their rhythm,” head coach Pam Ruder said.
Three Southwestern players scored in the double digits. Natasha Azizi led with 15, Jennifer Tindle came next with 12, and Jessica Herbst followed with 11. Great effort was also made by sophomore Staley Mullins who had nine rebounds.
“Scoring has been a bit of an issue for us, but we were able to go on a run in the second half which gave us the needed boost to close out the final minutes of the game. The win against Sewanee was very exciting for us,” Tindle said. “We needed that conference win to boost our confidence going into the final month of conference play.”
The lone but highly respected senior Natasha Azizi has many positive thoughts about the season and is ready to take this weekend’s win and run with it.
“I intend on finishing out the rest of the season strong,” Azizi said. “We have 7 games left in the season and we really want to use this momentum and finish out the year with our heads held high.”
Men’s basketball also had an excited weekend. After winning both of their games this weekend against Ogelthorpe and Sewanee, the men now have a 5 game streak and a positive outlook on the rest of the season.
“Currently the team is 13-5 and 4-4 in conference,” coach Chet Cook said. “All the remaining games will be important, and each will be a challenge for our team.”
Friday night against Ogelthorpe, the Pirates dominated the boards and came out on top with a score of 69-61. Contributing to this victory, four of the players scored in the double digits: Zach Bergstrom with fourteen, Anthony Cox and Travis Barber each with eleven and Ben Sanders with ten.
“Friday we managed to beat a well respected OU team,” Cook stated. “We strung together some good possessions and played determined defense.”
After a successful night, the men came out again on Saturday ready to once again come out victorious with a win over Sewanee. “Against Sewanee we shot the basketball well and opened up a close game at half to win by a good margin,” Cook said.
The Pirates played an outstanding game Saturday night allowing Sewanee only 19 points in the second half, while scoring 40 for themselves. Shooting 51.6% total and 50% from behind the arc, the Pirates found themselves up by 21 points several times in the last three minutes.
“Each of our team members has contributed in some important way to our season,” Cook commented. “Our starters Cox, Bergstrom, Barber, McDonald and Brown for sure have made important contributions. But we’ve gotten great time from Hays, Caputo, Salinas, Sanders, Bill and Ry Rowan.”
Junior guard Anthony Cox led the team with 21 points, three of four from the three point range, and ten of eleven free throws. Cox was only two rebounds shy of a double.
“With only two games remaining at Robertson Center, we wish to thank the students and SU community for their support this season and hope it will continue Friday, 20 February,” Cook said.
The men’s overall record is 13-4 and they are looking to make that grow even more. They [play away this week against Center and DePauw with hopes of making their five-game streak into a seven-game streak.