Red hot Lady Cougars bury Lamar

The Western Nebraska Community College women's basketball team knocked home 11 3-pointers and sizzled on defense in rolling to a commanding 75-26 win over Lamar Community College Friday night at Cougar Palace.

The win was the Cougars 11th of the season, but more importantly kept the team unbeaten in South Sub-region play with a perfect 7-0 mark. The win also lowered the Cougars magic number to clinch hosting the Region IX tournament to three.

Maurissa Ortega, who finished with 11 points, said the team's defense was superior on the night.

"Our defense is what we work on all the time," she said. "Our weakness is allowing them getting offensive rebounds and we have been working on that the past week and it showed tonight. Defense is just what we are good at. We talk. We communicate. We are strong. We hustle and go after the ball. That is what our signature is and that is we come out every night to prove it."

The Cougars offense wasn't too shabby either, burying 11 treys. The Cougars shot 43 percent from the field and 37 percent from beyond the arc. Ortega said that kind of shooting is huge for this team.

"We have tons of good shooters on our team and we go deep into the bench," she said. "Mikayla [Brower] is lights out. She can shoot threes from anywhere with people on her. She is huge and Gritt [Ryder] can shoot. We just have shooters and we work on that a lot. We come in at night and we work. Then our posts are solid inside so our inside out game is unstoppable when we are on fire."

The defensive intensity, however, was the difference especially in the second half, where the Runnin' Lopes managed just 10 points. And, during one streatch, the Cougars held Lamar scoreless for a 10-minute span.

A big key to the Cougars defensive intensity was the team's ball-hawking, scrappy play. The Cougars also rebounded the ball well, out-rebounding Lamar 46-34.

"Our coaches have been getting on us about that [not being scrappy]," Ortega said. "Sometimes when we box out, we just let the ball hit the floor instead of going to go get it. So, one of our goals tonight was to dive on the ball and be the first one to loose balls. Even when we are winning by a lot, we want to hustle to the very end."

WNCC dominated the game pretty much from the get-go, running out to a quick 8-5 lead behind 3-pointers by MIkayla Brower and Gritt Ryder. Lamar came back to cut the lead to 8-5 and later 10-7, but a flurry of 3-pointers, including two from Brower and one each from Shalisa Moffit and Laurin Rivera pushed the lead to 28-12. WNCC held a 35-16 lead at halftime.

The second half was all WNCC as the defense was stellar. Lamar was held to just three points early. WNCC then held the Runnin' Lopes scoreless for10 minutes and going on a 22-0 run for a 64-19 lead.
WNCC had three players in double figures, led by Brower with 16 points. Brower, who is tied for second in the NJCAA in 3-point shooting at 52.9 percent, connected on 4 of 6 from 3-point line for the night.

Also hitting for double digits was Rivera and Ortega with 11 points. Ryder led the team in rebounding with seven while also dishing out seven assists and scoring nine points. Jessica Aratani also chipped in nine points and pulled down five rebounds.

WNCC will be back in action Saturday when they host Northeastern Junior College at 5:30 p.m. That contest is Play 4Kay night and spectators are asked to wear pink for breast cancer awareness.



Lamar 16 10 – 26

WNCC 35 40 – 75

LAMAR

Tanner Campbell 2, Janey Truiett 2, Jaden Noe 1, Chakeva Raiford 3, Brianna Wiliams 4, Cydnee Ceballos 4, Ellie Stevens 10.

WNCC

Mikayla Brower 16, Laurin Rivera 11, Kelsey Doddridge 6, Gritt Ryder 9, Shalisa Moffit 5, Maurissa Ortega 11, Simone Evans 2, Michelle Brassard 3, Ashley Stevens 3, Jessica Aratani 9.

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