No one can question the Buena Vista University women's basketball team's ability to score points in bunches.
The BVU women went into this weekend's games on the road at Coe and Cornell second in the nation in Division III in scoring.
But according to BVU coach Janet Berry, defense was a different matter.
"We've actually played defense pretty well all season," she said Sunday night. "And when you score a lot of points, the tendency is to give up more. But we knew we could be a better defensive team and we're really going to stress that down the stretch."
The Beavers must have taken that emphasis to heart this weekend in easy wins over Coe and Cornell, beating Coe 98-60 Friday night in Cedar Rapids and Cornell 75-41 here Saturday.
"We just came at both teams hard right from the start and didn't give either many good looks at the basket," said Berry. "We stepped up our defense a notch like we wanted to."
The two wins was just half of a double dose of good news for the BVU women, who improved to 11-1 in Iowa Conference play,
Simpson College went into the weekend effectively tied with BVU for the conference lead with just one league loss but lost on its home floor to Loras Friday night and to Dubuque Saturday. The Storm slipped to 8-3 and left what looks like a fairly easy path to the conference title for the Beavers.
"It was a great weekend for us, a lot of fun," said Berry. "But we aren't going to take anything for granted. We still have some work to do."
Berry added that even if her team wins the Iowa Conference title, it still must win the IIAC post-season tournament to gain an automatic national tourney berth. She said if her team is eliminated in that tourney, it's possible they might not get an at-large berth for nationals.
"It's possible to get an at-large bid, but we don't want to leave anything to chance," she said. "We want to keep improving and be playing our best basketball at the start of the conference tournament."
Meanwhile, the other highlight for the BVU women this weekend was senior Kelli Taylor scoring her 1,000th career-point Friday night in the win over Coe.
Taylor, a speedy forward, scored a career-high 24 points in that contest and hit six of eight from beyond the arc.
"Kelli had a great game, as the whole team did," Berry said. "We had 30 more shots than Coe did and as a team, we shot the ball very well. We were dominant on the boards and gave them only one shot per possession if that."
Friday night, the Beavers led 48-26 at the half and outscored Coe 50-34 in the last 20 minutes for the final margin.
Three other players reached double figures for BVU, including senior forward Amy Meggers with 20, Jess Griggs with 13 and senior center Kristina Kapler with ten. Sophomore point guard Katie Maguire added eight.
BVU outrebounded Coe 53-33 and hit 45 percent of its shots, including 42.3 percent of its three-point shots. Taylor was two of four from two-point range and was two of four at the free throw line.
BVU added 23 assists with just 13 turnovers while Coe's respective numbers were 14 and 23.
It was much the same story Saturday night in Mount Vernon against Cornell, according to Berry.
"We just didn't let them have many good looks at the basket," she said. "The first shot they made was a long three-pointer that banked off the back board as the shot clock was expiring."
She added that Cornell made only four field goals in the first half, with BVU vaulting to a 43-12 lead after the first 20 minutes. They outscored Cornell 32-29 in the second half for the final margin.
Once again, the Beavers were led by Meggers and Taylor, as the pair connected for 15 and 14 points, respectively. Griggs and Maguire each added eight points.
BVU hit eight of 18 three-point field goals, including three from Taylor and two from Maguire. The Beavers shot 27 of 58 from the field for 46.6 percent.
They limited Cornell to 16 of 67 shooting for just 24 percent. BVU forced Cornell into 12 turnovers while committing ten. They outrebounded Cornell 50-38. Meggers finished with 11 rebounds while Kapler added eight.
Up next for the BVU women is Dubuque University, which they play tonight at Siebens Field Hous.
Dubuque is led by all-conference point guard Dana Kester.
"She's a tough player, capable of putting up 30 points easily," the coach said. "They are a very guard-oriented offense so we'll have to play good defense against their guards Tuesday night."