Lady Busters finally tested in win over Howard
Lady Busters finally tested in win over Howard
By ADAM HOLT
For the first time this young season, the Garden City Community College women's basketball team didn't win in a blowout.
And yes, that was a good thing.
After rolling through their first three games, the Lady Broncbusters were challenged by the Howard (Texas) Hawks, before pulling away for a 66-57 win Friday in the Pepsi Classic at the Perryman Athletic Complex.
Tamara Jones scored a season-high 28 points for Garden City, which struggled shooting the 3-pointer for the first time this season. The Busters were 4-of-19 from behind the arc, with Jones making all four of the threes.
It was maybe a game the Busters needed, for a team that relied on the 3-pointer to build its big leads.
"We did. We've been kind of living and dying on the three, so it was nice to be able to see that we could still win a game going other ways, or using different options," GCCC head coach Alaura Sharp said.
The game was tied at 31 at half, and despite playing better than it did in the first, Garden City (4-0) didn't quite pull away until the final six minutes of the game.
Deni Jacobs was fouled with 6:13 to play and made both her free throws to put Garden City up 55-51. Howard (2-2) came up empty on its next three possessions, committing two turnovers, and Shicole Watts made a pair of buckets to push the lead to 59-51, the largest in a game that saw eight ties and 16 lead changes.
Early on, Garden City struggled with Howard's zone defense, which was exacerbated by the fact the Busters weren't making long shots. But GCCC refocused on getting the ball inside in the second half, and Jones scored Garden City's first nine points of the second, on three layups and a 3-pointer.
"We decided to play inside-out, instead of keep shooting, missing," Jones said. "So if you go inside-out, it draws them in, because we weren't missing in the paint and we weren't making our outside shots. So go in the paint, you get doubled, kick it out."
Jones, Watts and Jacobs carried the scoring load for the Busters, totaling all but seven of GCCC's points. Watts had 18 on 9-of-14 shooting, while Jacobs added 13 off the bench.
"Those are the three we really want to lean on to get double-figures for us," Sharp said. "They stepped up and were huge tonight. I thought Deni Jacobs did a really good job off the bench. She's the one who started the attack, she's the one who really started getting us into that attack mode. It's just good that we can bring a spark like that off the bench."
After struggling to keep up with all the screens and cuts the Hawks ran on offense in the first half, the Busters were tenacious on defense in the second, pressuring the ball and forcing Howard to take poor shots with the shot clock winding down — the Hawks also committed two shot clock violations. Garden City locked down as the game went on, and forced four turnovers in the final seven minutes.
The pressure also allowed the Busters to contest a lot of the Hawks' shots in the second half.
"Our main focus was to keep them from having open shots," Jones said. "Because from watching film, they couldn't make a contested shot, they only made their open shots. So we switched guard-to-guard, we switched post-to-post, we made sure they didn't get an open shot."
"I think we just did a better job of keeping them in front of us," Sharp said. "We've never played a team that comes off as many screens and runs as much stuff as they do. I thought we just needed to be more aware. In the second half, we did a better job of starting ready and staying ready."
Destinee Thrash led Howard with 12 points, while Tori Tucker added 11 and Brittany Aikens had nine. Six Hawks scored at least seven points.
Early on, Garden City couldn't find a way to work the ball inside Howard's zone defense, and at times, looked like it was playing faster than it could think. A number of bad passes and some missed shots had Howard up 13-9 about halfway through the first.
Meanwhile, the Busters weren't keeping up with all the screens the Hawks used, and often a cutting player was able to find open space, catch a pass and shoot the ball uncontested.
"I just think we were trying to make an amazing play instead of just making the simple play," Sharp said of GCCC's early woes. "And I think it was true on offense and defense. Every time we were guarding someone, we wanted a steal, a blocked shot. Offensively, we wanted a 20-point score, and all we needed to do was play simple on both ends."
The Busters adjusted at halftime though and its stars carried the team when they needed to.
"This was a good game for us, being tied at half, coming out, and winning," Jones said. "We overcame what was wrong and fixed it."
The Busters may get tested again today when they play Frank Phillips (Texas) at 5:30 p.m. Frank Phillips beat Dodge City, 65-63 in overtime in the early game Friday.
Howard (2-2)--Flowers 3-5 0-0 8, Tucker 3-8 3-3 11, Thrash 4-14 3-4 12, Lemonnier 3-8 0-0 7, Tarrant 4-7 0-0 8, Aikens 4-7 0-0 9, Stinnett 1-5 0-0 2, Spearman 0-0 0-1 0. Totals 22-54 6-8 57.
Garden City (4-0)--Jones 12-26 0-1 28, Watts 9-14 0-0 18, Pope 1-4 0-4 2, Chinn 0-0 1-4 1, Goble 0-5 0-2 0, Jacobs 5-10 3-3 13, Green 2-7 0-0 4. 29-66 4-14 66.
3-point goals--Howard 7-18 (Flowers 2-3, Tucker 2-4, Thrash 1-4, Lemonnier 1-1, Aikens 1-2, Stinnett 0-4), Garden City 4-19 (Jones 4-11, Goble 0-4, Green 0-4). Rebounds--Howard 35 (Flowers 7), Garden City 40 (Jacobs 11). Fouled out--none. Assists--Howard 11 (Spearman 6), Garden City 18 (Goble, Jacobs 4). Turnovers--Howard 20, Garden City 13. Total fouls--Howard 10, Garden City 13.