HEADLINE: Defense the difference
By Kyle Smith
Democrat Sports Editor
Rebounding and defense saved the State Fair Community College Lady Roadrunners on Wednesday night at the Fred E. Davis Multipurpose Center.
Shooting only 20.5 percent in the first half, the Lady Roadrunners overcame a sluggish start to beat the Crowder Lady Riders 69-35 in a Region 16 women’s basketball game.
“First half, we outshot a team by 20 field goals and we just weren’t hitting anything,” SFCC head coach Kevin Bucher said. “They were easy shots. We knew they would go, but we wanted to keep the pressure going because when you play an outside shooting team like Crowder, you want to make sure their legs are tired in the second half, and I thought they looked really tired. We were still out running and playing really good defense.”
The Lady Roadrunners (11-7 overall, 3-1 Region 16) starting making some shots in the second half where they sank 14 of 33 attempts (42.4 percent).
“We attacked the rim more,” guard Adella Randle-El said. “We were rushing our shots in the first half. In the second half, we drove and kicked (it out), and our open shooters knocked them down.”
Bucher has another theory about the Lady Roadrunners’ slow start.
“The players were supposed to come in and take some shots during the day. We didn’t do that today. I was kind of upset,” Bucher said. “We have players who take classes all afternoon, so it’s hard for us to have a shootaround pregame. I stress to them that everybody has an hour, get in and shoot.”
SFCC played without its starting point guard, Antionette Taylor, who is nursing a leg injury.
“We’ve had some people who needed some rest have that opportunity,” said Bucher, referring to Randle-El as well. “Whoever we put in came in and played hard and aggressive.”
Five SFCC players scored eight or more points Wednesday night, helping fill the gap left by Taylor.
Randle-El scored a game-high 15 points. Alecia Cooley and Apiphany Woods had 13 each, Niki House had nine and Mary Sims had eight.
Outrebounding the Lady Riders 60-45, including 27-12 on offense, SFCC received rebounding help from its guards. Sims, a guard, led the Lady Roadrunners with 10 rebounds, and the guards outrebounded the posts 37-20.
In the first half, neither team led by more than four points before SFCC closed the period on an 11-0 run to lead 29-16 at halftime.
That run continued into the second half where it reached 13-0. After Ariana Gallegos’ basket, the Lady Roadrunners scored the next six points, outscoring Crowder 19-2 during that stretch to build a 37-18 lead.
Randle-El was a big part of the second-half surge, posting 13 points, three assists and three steals after halftime.
“Me coming off the bench, I bring energy — get everybody going, get everybody moving. That’s what I did. We came together and made a run,” Randle-El said.
Gallegos paced Crowder (7-14, 0-3) with 14 points and nine rebounds.
The Lady Roadrunners committed 15 turnovers compared to 29 by Crowder and held a 29-6 advantage on points off turnovers.
“To hold a team to 35 points is very good,” Bucher said. “I thought our defensive pressure — full court, half court — really set the stage.”
SFCC will travel to Mineral Area on Saturday in another Region 16 matchup. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. in Park Hills.