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Lady Bears claw Panthers in first round

March 21, 2003

By Whitney Long

The Lady Bears basketball team defeated the University of Northern Iowa Panthers 58-56 in the first round of the Women's National Invitational Tournament.

Baylor welcomed the No. 3 team in the Missouri Valley Conference at the Ferrell Special Events Center Thursday night.

The Lady Bears faced a tough time throughout the game with their outside shots and perimeter play.

'There is no ugly win, but...' Coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson said. 'When we're good, we're good. When we're bad, we are bad.'

Baylor led by three points at the half and continued to keep a close lead over Northern Iowa until the final buzzer.

'We have to keep our confidence up,' Mulkey said. 'I think it started with not making the NCAA championship tournament. [The team] hasn't learned how to handle that; I'm not even sure I will ever learn how to handle that.'

Freshman forward Sophia Young recorded a double-double for the Lady Bears. She had 17 points and 14 rebounds.

Sophomore post Steffanie Blackmon led the Lady Bears in scoring, with 22 points and eight rebounds.

'Our perimeter players tried to get the ball into us on the post,' Blackmon said. 'Even though our outside shots weren't falling, I still didn't hesitate to throw it back out to perimeter shooters. [Sophia Young] and I had to do a good job taking it inside.'

Freshman guard Ebony Jackson finished the game with four points but scored the game-winning basket for the Lady Bears.

'I just wanted to make that layup,' Jackson said.

The Lady Bears battled Northern Iowa's Amy Swisher, who had 21 points and 10 rebounds.

'[The Panthers] played great defense,' Blackmon said. 'They scouted us well and knew our plays and most of our offensive game. Swisher was hitting her shots really well tonight.'

When the Lady Bears miss shots, their confidence drops, and they are hesitant to shoot on the outside, Jackson said.

'We're very grateful to be in the WNIT and this was a big game for our girls to win in order to be okay with not making the NCAA [tournament],' Mulkey said.

The Lady Bears will move on to be home to the second round WNIT game on Sunday at the Ferrell Center. Game time will be posted on baylorbears.com.