Strong start, stellar defense propels Wabash Valley past Independence, 59-29
LUBBOCK, Texas – The first three games of the NJCAA Women’s Division I National Championships saw all three games come down to the wire, with an overtime decision thrown into the mix for good measure.
No. 10 seed Wabash Valley College wanted none of that.
The Warriors started off strong and never let up, getting one of their best defensive efforts of the season for a 59-29 victory over No. 23 seed Independence Community College in the opening round Monday night at the Rip Griffin Center.
Wabash Valley held Independence to just 16.7 percent (8 of 48) from the field while forcing 28 turnovers in the victory, which saw the Warriors build a 12-point lead at the end of the first quarter and never look back.
“We’ve been working on that since day one, that is the culture of our program and we’re going to guard for 40 minutes,” Wabash Valley head coach Luke Scheidecker said, “The kids did a great job. They have bought into our defense all year and continue to get better and better We’re not going to allow easy buckets. That’s what it comes down to and I thought we did a great job of that.”
Wabash Valley (21-3) advances to the second round where it will face No. 7 seed Shelton State College on Tuesday at 8 p.m. Independence sees its season come to an end at 20-7.
The Pirates simply couldn’t keep up with the Patriots at the beginning of the game and found themselves in a huge hole. Wabash Valley came out on fire, using a 14-2 run to take a 17-5 advantage at the end of the first quarter. The Warriors then scored six of the first seven points of the second quarter and were in complete control at 23-6 just 87 seconds into the quarter.
While they didn’t exactly blister it from the field themselves in the first half, the Warriors did almost everything else right. For the game, Wabash Valley got 22 points off the 28 Independence turnovers and outscored the Pirates 40-12 in the paint. The Warriors also outrebounded the Pirates 50-38, and turned 18 offensive boards into 18 points.
“We came out and I think caught them off guard with our defense, and we got some easy steals and transition layups that got us going from there,” Scheidecker said. “It wasn’t our best game offensively but you kind of expect that at the national tournament facing a team with athleticism. We got off to a great start and established the tempo for the whole game.”
Jazmyn Turner led the Warriors with 13 points and Je’Naiya Davis and Cierra Christian added 12 points each in the win.
Maisa Marcal led all scorers with 15 points for Independence.
The Wabash Valley defense held Independence to a measly 15 percent (3 of 20) shooting from the field, including 1 of 10 in the second quarter. Of the Pirates’ 14 first-half points, only eight came on field goals.
The Warriors also outrebounded the Pirates 30-14 in the first half which led to 14 second-chance points, and 16 of Wabash Valley’s 34 points came in the paint.
Independence tried to fight back but was just not consistent enough shooting the ball for it to make a difference. The Pirates got as close as 25-14 with 3:20 left in the first half, but Wabash Valley ended the half on an 8-0 run to lead 33-14 at the intermission.
From there, Wabash Valley kept the pressure on and never let the Pirates breath in cruising to the win.