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WNCC women go to 4-0 in sub-region with 68-35 win over Otero
 January 20, 2013

Ashley Stevens finished with a double-double and the Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team used a stingy defense in picking up a South Sub-Region win over Otero Junior College 68-35 Saturday afternoon at Cougar Palace.
Stevens was one of many outstanding players on the day. Her 12 points, 12 rebounds included two 3-pointers on the day. In fact, the Cougars connected on 10 treys altogether, led by Shalisa Moffit with three 3-pointers. Gritt Ryder popped in two treys, while Mikayla Brower, Laurin Rivera and Jessica Aratani each buried one.
“The teams will not know who is on that night,” Stevens said. “It is like a weapon for us because anybody can step up and hit that 3-pointer.”
While the offense was highlighted by outstanding 3-pointer shooting, what really defined the win was the team’s defense. Saturday, the Cougars held Otero to just 28 percent shooting. The Cougars also out-rebounded the Rattlers 45-34.
Stevens said the team played much better defense against Otero then they did Trinidad on Friday night.
“After our defense last night [Friday] where we gave up too many points, we knew we had to pick up our defense and play all-together,” the Bridgeport graduate said. “We played last night where we weren’t moving and keeping the ball in front. Today we picked it up and kept everything in front of us and played better as a team defensively.”
Stevens said the key to the Cougars stingy defense was communication.
“We had to talk a lot more today,” Stevens said. “Like on their back screens or even other screens, you have to tell your teammates that they are coming so they don’t get blindsided. And when you go trap, you have make sure the person doesn’t see us.”
More importantly, though, the win helped the Cougars remain perfect in the South Sub-Region at 4-0 and they have a two game lead over the second place teams. The winner of the sub-region hosts the Region IX tournament in March.
“We can’t let that [leading the region] get to our heads,” Stevens said. “We have to keep playing has hard as we are right know. We have to keep stepping up to each level and to each new team that we play. We play Eastern Wyoming on Tuesday and they have beat McCook and Otero, so we have to step up and try to beat them, too. We have to take it one game at a time.”
The early part of the contest was a battle as both teams were knotted at 10-10. It was then the Cougars would go on a 12-01 run, aided by back-to-back NBA-range 3-pointers by Moffit. The Cougars also received six points from Rivera to take a 22-10 lead. WNCC didn’t let up as Stevens scored the last seven points on the half to give the Cougars a 37-21 lead at intermission.
The second half was all WNCC thanks to one of the top defenses in the nation. WNCC, leading 42-24, came back and buried five straight 3-pointers. Ryder started things and then Moffit, Brower, Rivera and Aratani each hit a 20-footer to put WNCC up 59-29 and never looked back.
The Cougars had solid scoring with three players in double figures. Aratani led the way with 13 points while also pulling down six rebounds. Stevens and Ryder each finished with 12 points, followed by Rivera and Moffit with nine points each. Ryder also pulled down six rebounds and had six assists.
Otero didn’t have anyone in double figures. Holly Carter led the team with nine points.
WNCC, 4-0 in sub-region play, will look to stay unbeaten when they host Eastern Wyoming College on Tuesday beginning at 5:30 p.m.

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