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Women's success built on confidence, defense

The early success of the 2015-2016 MVNU women’s basketball team has been built on confidence and defense.

After winning only five out of 27 games last season, the 2015-2016 Lady Cougars have already doubled their 2014-2015 win total with 10 wins in the first 20 games.

A strong 5-1 start to the season has played a big part in their success.

“Half of being successful is their mindset,” head coach Amanda Learned said. “They had to believe that they were good players and believe in each other. They have the desire to make a statement this year and to lay it all out on the floor.”

The Lady Cougars have focused a lot on defense so far this season.

“I have been stressing this from day one, and my players are finally buying in,” Learned said. “We had a few games where we did not work hard, which resulted in a loss, but when they see that every possession we have to go hard and want it more than the other team, we have been successful.”

Leading the way in both points and rebounds for the Lady Cougars is junior Megan Beidelman. Beidelman is averaging 13.7 points and 11.8 rebounds per game.

Also a focal point for the 2015-2016 Lady Cougars is sophomore Natalie Carpenter. Carpenter led the Cougars past Grace College for their 10th win of the season with 17 points. Carpenter has paced the Lady Cougars with 13.1 points per game, and also shoots a team-best 80 percent from the free- throw line.

Sophomore Sierra Basista has pitched in 10.1 points, while freshman Rachel Parks continues to impress with 7.1 points per game. Sophomore Sophie Kinnard is a spark plug for the Cougars off the bench, scoring 6.4 points per game.

Learned looks forward to finishing the season strong.

“It has been an awesome first year for me, and I am blessed to have such a great group of girls,” she said. “I am excited to see them succeed, and I am so happy to see their hard work pay off.”

The 2015-2016 season has been highlighted by wins over Huntington University, Bethel College and a buzzer beater from Basista to stun Spring Arbor University in double overtime.

The Lady Cougars will travel to Goshen College on Saturday for a 7 p.m. tipoff. They will play five out of their final six regular season games on the road.

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