The Crowder Lady ‘Riders have lost four games all season. One of those losses came at the hands of the Iowa Western Lady Reivers back on Jan. 9 in Council Bluffs, Iowa. So when the foes hooked up again on Wednesday at Bob Sneller Gymnasium, the Lady ‘Riders weren’t ready to allow their seven game winning streak to come to a halt.
Despite trailing at halftime, the Lady ‘Riders built an 11-point second half lead and held on to knock off Iowa Western in a thriller, 67-63, to extend their winning streak to eight games.
Really, there hasn’t been much separation of either team on the court. A month ago it was the Lady Reivers coming out on top, 65-64, in a back-and-forth tussle that resembled Wednesday’s showdown.
“That’s something we talked about before the game and at halftime too, was that it’s going to be a battle for 40 minutes,” Crowder coach Tina Robbins said. “Neither team is going to give up after someone makes a run. It’s going to be back and forth.
“We’ve got to give them credit, we had an 11-point lead there at one point and they came right back at us. That’s very characteristic of their team, a very well coached team.”
Iowa Western led 29-28 at the half, but the Lady ‘Riders (21-4) came out on fire in the second half and built an 11-point lead. They later held a 60-53 advantage with 7:10 remaining in the game before Iowa Western began chiseling away at their lead and cut it to 60-58 with 3:48 left.
On Crowder’s next possession, sophomore guard Sarah Sagely drained a huge 3-pointer from the wing to push the lead back to five (63-58). That shot would loom large the remainder of the way as Leah Scott would later score on a layup to make it 65-63 Crowder with 26 seconds to go.
After a quick timeout, the Lady ‘Riders got the ball in and managed to break the press as Sagely weaved around defenders in the backcourt before finding Camila Lacerda open down the floor for an easy layup with eight seconds left to seal it.
“We talked to our kids that we needed that one defensive stop, and after we got it we didn’t have to have a shot,” Robbins said. “We have some intelligent kids, and they realized that and they ran the clock out. We had some key possessions before that where we were able to hit some big shots.”
Undeniably, Crowder’s defense has continued to improve of late. Throughout their most recent winning stretch, the Lady ‘Riders have allowed teams to score more than 55 points just twice in eight games — once in an 82-72 win against State Fair on Jan. 23, and again on Wednesday. But Robbins says her team isn’t content with where they are, that they particularly need to improve on the boards, where they were out-rebounded 40-31, and that their drive to improve is a good sign.
Page 2 of 2 - “I think defensively we’ve continued to improve, and I think our defense has been pretty solid here as of late,” Robbins said. “The one area that we challenged them with is we’ve got to get better on the boards. The old saying, ‘offense sells tickets, defense wins games and rebounding wins championships’ we’ve talked about that. So that’s going to be a challenge for us the next couple of weeks, is that we’ve got to get better on the boards.”
Terai Sadler led the Lady ‘Riders with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Lacerda had 15 points, Sagely 12, Caprese Marshall 10, Chloe Nichols six, Dorian Briggs five and Megan Ritter three. Nichols added nine boards, Lacerda had six assists, and Sadler, Marshall and Seleena Neal tallied two steals apiece.
Scott led the Lady ‘Reivers with 15 points, while Shaw-Nee Winningham had 11, Natasha Lebedeva 10, Bobbi Beckwith and Tyisha Smith nine, Ashley Prather five, and Blair Harding and Alise Karlsone two apiece.
Crowder hosts Arkansas Baptist at 2 p.m. Saturday.