January 28, 2012

Baker Perfect as Knights Cruise by Bennett

Written by Chris Pendleton

BUENA VISTA, Va.—Playing at home for the first time in more than a month, Nicole Baker put on one of the best performances in Southern Virginia University women's basketball history on Saturday going a perfect 13-for-13 from the floor while scoring a season-high 31 points and grabbing 12 rebounds in only 26 minutes on the court as the Knights cruised past Bennett College 84-48 for their third consecutive victory.

Baker (Burley, Idaho), who has been stellar since returning from winter break—the senior forward is averaging 25 points on 72 percent shooting so far during the month of January—was dominant from the opening tip pouring in 28 of the Knights' 45 first-half points without missing a single shot during her 18 minutes on the floor.

With the score knotted at 9-9 just over six minutes into the game, Baker caught fire outscoring Bennett 12-4 by herself over the next five minutes of play giving the Knights a 21-13 lead at the 8:51 mark. 

Southern Virginia (8-7) would not look back, pushing its lead to 21 points (45-24) by intermission before running away from Bennett (7-8) in the second half. 

Baker, who made her only shot in the second half, was not the only Knight to net a season-high on Saturday—fellow senior Cara Joyner (Columbia, Miss.) also had her best game of the year against Bennett scoring 15 points on 7-of-13 shooting to go along with nine rebounds. 

After recording her first career triple-double against Penn College earlier in the week, junior Amaris Newkirk (Folsom, N.M.) again filled the stat sheet finishing with nine points, nine assists, seven rebounds and five steals.

Nine of Southern Virginia's ten players scored during Saturday's rout of Bennett as the Knights shot a season-best 53 percent from the field.

Rebounding was also key during Saturday's victory as Southern Virginia outrebounded Bennett 47-17 for the game, including a 21-6 advantage on the offensive glass. Eleven of Baker's 12 rebounds came on the offensive end of the floor.

"It was great to be at home and have everyone contribute to the success of the team," said 13th-year Mike Harmon following Saturday's victory. "I hope we can execute a bit better on Wednesday when Apprentice comes to town."

Southern Virginia, currently ranked No. 7 in the USCAA Coaches' Poll, will look to avenge its only loss of the New Year on Wednesday, Feb. 1 when No. 2 ranked Apprentice (18-1) travels to Buena Vista, Va. for a game at 6 p.m. The Shipbuilders defeated the visiting Knights 67-65 earlier this month. 

Watch a replay of Saturday's win as well as Wednesday's matchup with Apprentice on Southern Virginia's online athletic broadcast portal.