Perkins leads Truman past Bearcat women
Thursday, January 10, 2002

MARYVILLE, Mo. — Sarah Vollertsen tried. So did Kristen Anderson. A series of zone defenses, double-teams — all tried it, but all found the same result.

Nothing Northwest Missouri State tried on Wednesday night could slow Truman State center Jennifer Perkins.

The 6-foot-1 Perkins grabbed 18 rebounds and scored 27 points as she led the Bulldogs to a 73-64 come-from-behind road victory over the Bearcats.

“We tried adjusting during the game, but nothing seemed to work,” said Northwest coach Gene Steinmeyer. “We tried to double-team her, but she’d split the double-teams. We tried coming over to draw the charge and she’d go away from the pressure.”

The big night didn’t come as a surprise to Truman coach John Sloop, who is pushing for All-American honors for Perkins.

“I don’t like to campaign for my players very often, but I’ve never coached a better post player than Jennifer,” Sloop said. “When she gets her game going like she did tonight, there’s just not much the other team can do to stop it. She’s got to be one of the best interior players in the league.”

With Perkins leading the way with eight first half boards, Truman (9-3 overall and 2-2 in the MIAA) grabbed 16 more rebounds than Northwest (7-5, 2-2) at the intermission.

Despite the gap in rebounding, Northwest led 32-30 at halftime. The lead was due in large part to seven points from Brooke Hogue – and an opportunistic nine second-chance points on just six offensive rebounds.

Early in the second half it appeared that Northwest was on its way to its third conference victory. The Bearcats opened the half with a 13-4 run and led 47-34 with 15 minutes remaining in the game.

Five different players scored in the run for Bearcats, who played with a sense of urgency.

“We came out ready to go in the second half,” said Vollertsen, who grabbed three early rebounds in the half. “Rebounding is something we can control, so we just came out wanting each ball. Then the shots started falling.”

As soon as they came, the shots went away for Northwest.

The Bulldogs answered with a 19-4 run to take a 53-51 lead with 8:11 remaining.

“We knew that we could put a run together, so we didn’t panic when we got down,” Perkins said. “Finally our shots started falling. And they went into a zone, so when I was guarded, I’d have someone to kick it out to.”

Perkins found her zone, and so did teammate Wendi Sobaski, who made three key 3s in the second half. Sobaski finished the game with 17 points.

Behind 29 second-half points from Perkins and Sobaski — and a 54-32 rebounding advantage — the Bulldogs pulled away at the end.

“The scouting report said stop Perkins and Sobaski,” Steinmeyer said. “So who beat us? Perkins and Sobaski. I guess I just didn’t stress it enough to put our girls in the right frame of mind.”

Steinmeyer inserted Vollertsen into the starting lineup for the first time in an attempt to match the Bulldogs’ size, but the adjustment merely slowed the center, who ranks third in the MIAA in both scoring and rebounding.

“She’s just really physical,” said Anderson, who shared duties at the post. “I guess we just didn’t play her the way we should have... I don’t know... she’s just a really good player.”

Steinmeyer said he was disappointed by the rebounding difference in the game, but was most disappointed by the home loss.

“We just gave away the Emporia win,” he said. “We go on the road and get a huge win like that, then come back and lose one like this at home, that’s pretty tough to take.”