The Crowder Lady Roughriders returned to the winning column with a 68-53 victory Tuesday night over Murray State at Bob Sneller Gymnasium.
Crowder outscored Murray State 36-17 in the second half, including 21-8 in the fourth quarter, to erase a four-point halftime deficit.
Crowder sophomores Elle Williams, Maegan Bandimere, Sydney Linny, and Bethaney Gilkey alone combined for 53 points, with Williams scoring a game-high 22 points. It helped that she had a four-point play and an old-fashioned three-point play during the contest and missed the free throw on another possible old-fashioned three-point play.
Maia Wright grabbed a team-high nine rebounds to go with her seven points, before an apparent ankle injury sidelined her for the rest of the game. Williams dished out two assists and had three steals. Tricia Wattman blocked a pair of shots.
Crowder improved to 3-3 overall and the Lady 'Riders return to action Friday and Saturday at home in the Don Wilson Classic.
"I thought we did some good things in the first three quarters," Crowder head coach Tina Wilson said, "but like you said, we never could pull away. I thought fourth quarter was a big quarter for us. We held them to eight points. I thought our defense was better in the second half. We held them to 17 points in that second half and I thought we did a much better job on the defensive glass, barring the one possession we gave up three chances. Other than that, they didn't get many second-chance opportunities and I think that was big for us.
"Down on this end, we had some kids hit some big shots. It kinda feeds off each other. When you're playing well on the defensive end, I think it translates to the offensive end and I was proud of that fourth quarter we had."
Linny hit a shot at the third quarter buzzer to give Crowder a 47-45 lead entering the fourth. It was the kind of shot she often made at Neosho High.
"Not quite how we envisioned that shot," Wilson said, "but nevertheless, that was probably more of a backbreaker because of the way she (Linny) shot it, contested and contorted. To get that shot, I thought it gave us momentum going into the fourth."
Crowder took a pair of losses over the weekend in a tournament in Tyler (Texas).
"Tyler's really good," Wilson said. "No. 24 (NJCAA Division I). We competed with them for about 3-4 minutes and after the first quarter, it got out of hand. Saturday was a very winnable game (Bossier Parish). We harped on our defense or lack thereof. We gave up 85 points on Friday night and 84 on Saturday, and we talked about how if we're going to win games, we've got to hold them to 60 or below to give ourselves a legitimate chance. It's something that we'll keep working on, defense and rebounding."
Playing teams like Tyler and Bossier Parish, that's only part of the preparation for the rigors of the Region 16 schedule every season.
"We always try and play a tough schedule headed into Region 16," Wilson said. "Our region's always pretty tough and never easy playing on the road. I do think our schedule gets us prepared for that."
Crowder gets Coffeyville on Friday night (7 p.m.) and Seminole State on Saturday afternoon (3 p.m.). North Arkansas is the fourth school in the field.
"It's nice to be back home," Wilson said. "Obviously, getting the win tonight, it's a huge step in the right direction. Hopefully, we'll show up pretty good this weekend and like I said, it's always nice to be back at home."
The Lady 'Riders then close out November with consecutive Tuesday road games against Redlands and Murray State, both Oklahoma schools; Crowder plays Seminole State on the road on the first day of December and then closes out the 2018 calendar year with three consecutive home games before nearly a month away from game competition. Crowder opens the new year at home January 2 against Redlands.
Crowder has finished Region 16 tournament runner-up the past two seasons.
CROWDER 68, MURRAY STATE 53
Murray State 16 20 9 8 — 53
Crowder 12 20 15 21 — 68
MURRAY STATE (1-4) — Bailey Bearce 2, Toni Greene 8, Hailey Belvin 5, Kes Reeves 9, Madalyn Jessepe 5, Andrea Nascimento 3, Hannah Wade 15, Aailyah Endsley 6.
CROWDER (3-3) — Tricia Wattman 4, Thathianna Sysavanh 0, Ashley Reichert 0, Sydney Linny 11, Maegan Bandimere 12, Bethaney Gilkey 8, Maia Wright 7, Kourtney Shipley 4, Elle Williams 22.
3-point goals — Murray State 8 (Wade 3, Greene 2, Belvin, Reeves, Nascimento), Crowder 7 (Williams 3, Bandimere 2, Linny, Shipley).