LADY DRAGONS CAPTURE NATIONAL TOURNAMENT OPENER OVER ASAMarch 21, 2013
By Steve Carpenter, HCC Sports Information Director
SALINA – The No. 3-ranked Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team whipped up another defensive gem to open the 2013 NJCAA Women’s Division I Basketball Tournament.
The Lady Dragons held their 99th consecutive opponent to less than 50-pecent shooting, holding ASA College of Brooklyn, N.Y., to 32.1 percent from the field and forced 19 turnovers as third-seeded Hutchinson eliminated the 19th-seeded Avengers 77-55 in a second-round matchup on Wednesday night at the Bicentennial Center.
Hutchinson (34-1) advances to the NJCAA quarterfinals for the second-straight year and will play No. 11 Northwest Florida State (26-5) at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
Sophomore point guard Chrisstasia Walter led the Lady Dragon defense on Wednesday with a career-high-tying seven of Hutchinson’s 14 steals in the game. HCC forced ASA into 19 turnovers and converted them into 19 points.
Walter and freshman Jen’Von’Ta Hill had the primary defensive assignment on ASA’s Shaquita Smith, who had 30 point in the Avengers’ opening-round victory over Western Nebraska. Walter and Hill limited Smith to only three free throws and 0 of 8 overall shooting, 0 of 5 from 3-point range.
“We were trying to not allow (Smith) to have a big night like she did last night,” HCC head coach John Ontjes said. “You can’t complement Jen and Chrisstasia enough on how well they defended her.”
The other key was keeping the athletic Avengers off the boards. ASA averages 52 total rebounds and 26 offensive boards per game. HCC out-rebounded ASA 46-33, holding the Avengers to 14 offensive boards. ASA had just 12 second-chance points.
“They had 23 offensive rebounds against Western Nebraska yesterday,” Ontjes said. “They are a very good team that is athletic and goes to the boards very hard and it was our goal tonight to just our bodies between them and basket and try to eliminate as many second-chance points as we could.”
Added sophomore Jasmine Patterson: “All we talked about was keeping them off the boards. They had 20-something rebounds against Western Nebraska. We had to box out today or they would go get it. No. 11 (Sashana Bucknor and No. 3 (Tiffany Jones) were like animals on the boards yesterday, so we had to box out.”
Walter finished with 18 points and nine rebounds. She had a couple of 3-pointers, including a huge trey early in the second half that pushed the HCC lead to double figures for the first time in the second half.
“After I hit that first shot, I was a little more relaxed,” Walter said. “Now we just have to take them one game at a time.”
Patterson had 14 of her 17 points in the first half. She added six rebounds. Freshman Jamie Patrick had 10 of her 13 points in the second half. Sophomore Aja Sorrells had eight of her 10 points in the final 20 minutes.
The bench also played a key role in the victory.
Sophomore Kyrsten Crawford had seven points. Freshman Briana Starks added six points. Hill had six points and four assists. Freshman Kiarra Jones didn’t score, but had six rebounds and played solid, physical defense.
The Lady Dragons shot 23 of 57 overall (40.4) percent, including 4 of 13 from 3-point range and 27 of 35 from the foul line. HCC had 14 turnovers.
Tiffany Jones led ASA (26-6) with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Kelcey Castro came off the bench to hit 4 of 7 from 3-point range and finish with 12 points.
“We had to contain them and keep them in front of us,” Patterson said of the defensive effort. “We did a pretty good job with that today.”
Hutchinson jumped out to a quick 9-3 lead after a Patrick 3-pointer with 16:22 to play in the first half. The lead reached eight with a Patterson 3-pointer with 11:08 to go for a 15-7 lead. The Hutchinson run eventually reached 8-0 – neither team scored for nearly 3 minutes – but two Patterson free throws upped the lead to 17-7 with 8:45 to play.
HCC got the first-half lead to as many as12 points when Patterson scored after an offensive rebound for a 21-9 lead with 7:40 to play. ASA went on a 7-2 run; holding Hutch without a field goal for 4 minutes, 51 seconds and the lead was down to 23-16 with 4:25 to play.
HCC answered with two Patterson free throws and a Walter 3-pointer with 2:49 to go giving the Lady Dragons a 28-16 lead. The Lady Dragons led 34-25 at halftime. HCC shot 34.4 percent.
ASA got the lead down to seven at 37-30 with 18:37 to play. That’s when Walter knocked down a 3-pointer with 8:17 to go to push the lead back to 10 at 40-30.
A few minutes later, Sorrells scored and Hill hit a short jumper in the lane to give HCC a 50-38 lead with 14:02 to play. ASA kept hanging around for the next several minutes but never really mounted a threat. HCC led 56-42 with 9:52 to go after Castro’s fourth 3-pointer.
That wound up being ASA’s last field goal for the next 4 minutes as the Lady Dragons score 10 unanswered points to lead 66-42 after two Starks free throws with 6:13 to play.
Hutchinson shot 54.5 percent in the second half. ASA shot only 32.1 percent.
GAME NOTES – This was the first meeting ever between Hutchinson and ASA. It was only the second meeting between HCC and a team from New York. The other came in the 1877 NJCAA Tournament against Monroe College. … HCC had an NJCAA Tournament record 8-5, going 3-1 in tournament-opening games. … HCC was one of eight teams to receive a first-round bye. … The 2013 sophomores extended their team record for wins by a class to 70. … HCC head coach John Ontjes is now 20-8 vs. nationally ranked teams. … Chrisstasia Walter moved up to eighth in career steals with 134. … Jasmine Patterson now up to No. 18 on the career scoring list with 738 points. … HCC is 32-1 when leading at half. … The 27 free throws tie for the fifth most in the game. … ASA’s six blocked shots were the most by an opponent.