Perhaps there was some added confidence for the Crowder Lady ‘Riders having already whipped up on North Arkansas once this season, because they looked nothing like a scuffling team that was losers four in a row when they hosted the Lady Pioneers and beat them, 92-75, at Bob Sneller Gymnasium on Tuesday.
It was the first win for the Lady ‘Riders since Dec. 13, when they defeated these same Lady Pioneers, 92-65, on the road. Just like that game, Crowder started fast and was in complete control most of the way. The Lady ‘Riders opened the game on a 9-0 run and led 16-2 in the first few minutes of the game.
“At this point any win is a good win for us,” Crowder coach Tina Robbins said. “We definitely played with a lot more energy, a lot more effort, a lot more enthusiasm. Very pleased with our effort. I think with the effort we had, we had good results to go with that.”
The guard-heavy Lady Pioneers didn’t match up well with the lengthier Lady ‘Riders. A team that relies heavily on the 3-pointer, North Arkansas didn’t shy away from cranking shots from behind the arc, making 13 3s. Problem was, Crowder was more efficient in its attempts and nearly matched them with 12 treys. Add that up with the fact that the Lady Pioneers couldn’t guard Crowder in the paint and you have Crowder’s recipe for success.
Crowder stretched its lead to 40-19 late in the first half and led 49-33 at the half. The Lady ‘Riders seemingly had an answer for everything, too. Every time the Lady Pioneers would get a bit hot and start to close the gap, the Lady ‘Riders would answer with big shots to push them back. After a three-point play and a 3-pointer on back to back possessions by Lady Pioneer Kaitlin Powell cut the deficit to 66-56 with about 10 minutes left in the game, Crowder’s Lori Kleier stepped up and nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to push it to 72-58.
“I think it was big for us to come out and score right off the bat and get a little bit of a lead, because I think it gave us a little bit of confidence,” Robbins said. “Anytime a team is struggling to put points on the board the way we have been, it’s always a nice confidence booster. I think once we were able to score we got a little more comfortable and started to play with a little more energy also.”
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect for Robbins was that the team received contributions from everyone who touched the floor. All nine players scored in the game. Sophomore leader Dorian Briggs had another big game with 28 points, but she wasn’t alone in the scoring department. Kleier netted 12 points in the win, while Courtney Jones added 11, Katie Hughes 10, Tae’lor Monroe and Ariana Gallegos eight, Thays Barbosa six, Mariana Silva five and Tiffany Rhame four.
Page 2 of 2 - “I thought everybody played well tonight,” Robbins said. “That’s what makes it fun. It seems like the games we’ve played our best we’ve had contributions from everyone and not just one or two people carrying the load. I told our kids it wasn’t a perfect game, but it was one to build on.”
Kodee Powell led the Lady Pioneers with 22 points, while Jaimie Villines added 14, Kaitlin Powell and Brooke Malone eight, Demi Hargrove seven, Holland Craise and Bailey Boring four, Callie Cox and Ashely Martin three and Jordan Cottengin two.
The Lady ‘Riders improved to 7-12 overall. They’ll entertain Three Rivers at 2 p.m. Saturday.