The State Fair Lady Roadrunners saw a 17-point halftime lead reduced to six before rebounding to beat North Arkansas 91-70 on Wednesday at the Fred E. Davis Multipurpose Center.
Down 48-31 at the half, North Arkansas went on a 13-2 run to cut the lead to 50-44. But Antoinette Taylor hit a driving layup, got a steal and fed Julia Torres for a layup and State Fair led by 10 or more the rest of the way.
“They’re 17-3 and they’ve played some pretty good teams,” said State Fair coach Kevin Bucher. “We knew they were going to come back. What was nice was when (State Fair guard) Sannayiahh (Johnson) hit that big 3-pointer (to make it 64-50) I thought that kind of eased us and got the momentum back to our side.”
Four Lady Roadrunners scored in double figures, led by Taylor’s 21 points coming off 4 of 9 shooting from 3-point range. Johnson added 14, Mia Wesley scored 13 and Adella Randle-El added 10.
State Fair built up the lead in the first half with defense. North Arkansas turned the ball over 17 times in the half. During one stretch the Pioneers turned the ball over on eight consecutive possessions. During that stretch five different Lady Roadrunners picked up steals on five possessions — Wesley, Lawre’ll Dobbins, Apiphany Woods, Randle-El and Taylor. In all, State Fair picked up 19 steals in the game with Wesley and Taylor each grabbing four.
“I think we came out with good intensity,” Taylor said. “The help-side defense was good. Coach stayed on us about defense and help-side.”
That defensive stand helped State Fair go on a 16-0 run. After North Arkansas got two quick baskets to take a 5-2 lead, Wesley hit two quick baskets of her own, including a 3-pointer following the steal by Dobbins. The steal by Woods led to Wesley finding Dobbins for a layup. Then Taylor got involved, getting a steal and a layup, finding Asia Mosley for a jumper, then hitting a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to make it 18-5 State Fair, saying later she knew she was in a zone “when the first one went in.”
State Fair opened the game hitting its first eight shots from the field and shot 18 of 34 in the first half (53 percent).
“They were open shots, they weren’t rushed,” Bucher said. “You’ve got to step up and hit those. That really started us off. We did a really good job of hitting those shots and that put the pressure on them and then we could put the defensive pressure on and that helped get us the steals and conversions.”
Along with Taylor’s four 3-pointers in the game were three each by Wesley and Johnson. State Fair hit 12 of 25 from 3-point range in the game.
“They were confident, they were hitting them,” Bucher said. “It’s good whenever you hit shots. Mia hit in the early stage and then Sannayiahh and Adella hit a couple there.”
North Arkansas came into the game with a defense that had held teams under 50 points eight times this season. The most any team had scored against the Pioneers before Wednesday was 80.
“We were just executing our offense, working the ball around and getting good shots,” Wesley said.
The two teams met on Nov. 13, with North Arkansas center Janna Case scoring 21 points in a 76-67 Pioneers win. In the rematch on Wednesday, Case was held to 13 points.
“Our problem has been some bigs who really have hurt us,” Bucher said. “She hurt us down at their place. Our goal was to make sure she didn’t get 21 points, so we put our bigs in banging and hitting her. A lot of our bigs had fouls but they made her earn her 13 points. I thought once we got her under control we could really get out and guard their 3-point shooters.”
North Arkansas shot 6 of 16 from 3-point range in the game.
State Fair (18-6) will play at Penn Valley at 1 p.m. Saturday.
SFCC at Penn Valley
1 p.m. Saturday in Kansas City
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