Board-er Patrol: women’s basketball headlined by sophomore forwards


Kallie Bildner (left) and Gabby Walker in practice fresh off a 13-point win over undefeated University of Illinois – Springfield.
Photo by Walker Van Wey


With the women’s basketball record standing at 4-0, it’s hard to ignore the one-two punch of sophomore forwards Gabby Walker and Kallie Bildner.

“Two years ago when they were still in high school, this was the vision,” head coach Tony Francis said. “I wanted two forwards with totally different styles but so complementary to each other’s game.”

[perfectpullquote align=”left” cite=”Kallie Bildner” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Rebounding is most important. Baskets will fall, but if you don’t get rebounds, you’re not going to score.”[/perfectpullquote]

Walker and Bildner played fairly separate freshman seasons with one hurt, then the other. This year, the two of them have 46.4 percent of the combined points scored and 45 percent of the combined rebounds.

As the Lions out-rebound opponents by 19.5 rebounds per game, it’s clear that there’s a correlation between winning percentage and Francis’ game plan.

“Rebounding is most important,” Bildner said. “Baskets will fall, but if you don’t get rebounds, you’re not going to score.”

Visually, the most obvious ingredient of the formula is height. With Bildner standing 6-foot-3  and Walker 6-foot, it’s a tangible attribute that Walker has always wanted.

“I love having somebody else out there that’s tall,” Walker said. “It’s nice having somebody taller than me. It really helps because I have somebody out there who can see the floor better than me or anybody else, really.”

Even though the two may end the game with similar statistics, the style of play almost couldn’t be any different.

“I’m very laid back,” Bildner said. “I don’t do anything fancy; I’m more of a get-it-done kind of girl. I’m not the showy kind; I’m more of a ‘stay in my zone’ player. Gabby plays aggressive. She goes out there, and you know she’d fight for us. If it came down to that, she’d fight for us.”

Although the duo may have a “fire and ice” dynamic, Walker, Bildner and Francis all know that fire and ice both do damage.

“I can read the ball and where it’s going, and I know where to position myself,” Bildner said. “Gabby just crashes the boards hard at all times. The other team is going to have to be willing to get physical, or they’re not going to get any rebounds.”

[perfectpullquote align=”right” cite=”Gabby Walker” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“I think it kind of baffles them [opposing teams]. Mainly it’s one post player that kills a team, not two. It demoralizes them and kind of takes them out of a game because then they’re focused on stopping two people leaving the rest of the team open.”[/perfectpullquote]

While the Lions inside-out offense itself may appear to be one dimensional in terms of the slow-tempo, setup offense may be their only threat, Walker and Bildner are equally effective in the fast break.

“Gabby is a much faster player in the open court,” Francis said. “She’s got a few layups, but at the same time, as Gabby runs, you’ve got Kallie trailing, and Kallie’s shooting 60 percent from 3-point range. That stretches the D out quite a bit.”

A luxury all parties acknowledge is the fact that in an era of basketball when finesse play and deep-ball shooting is at an all-time high, Lindenwood’s ability to change the game with two dominant forwards changes the entire game plan for opposing coaches and players.

“I think it kind of baffles them [opposing teams],” Walker said. “Mainly it’s one post player that kills a team, not two. It demoralizes them and kind of takes them out of a game because then they’re focused on stopping two people, leaving the rest of the team open.”

The Lions stand 4-0 on the season with both players averaging nearly double-doubles, but coach Francis knows that there are game plans in place to stop an offense like Lindenwood’s.

“What’s eventually going to happen is other teams are going to take away our post entry passing and force us to score on the outside,” Francis said.

With the other players Lindenwood has on the floor every night boasting high percentage 3-point shooting, such as Lexie Moe and Kylie Ferguson, Lindenwood welcomes the effort.

The Lions’ next game is scheduled for Monday, Nov. 26, against the Saint Louis College of Pharmacy at the Hyland Arena.