LIBERAL, Kan. – In a battle between two Top 15 teams, the KJCCC opener for the No. 8 Seward County women's basketball team lived up to its expectations. Seward County was able to start off their conference play on the right note, defeating No. 12 Hutchinson, 60-47.
The game didn't start pretty for the Lady Saints (3-0, 1-0), turning the ball over on their first five possessions down the court. The Blue Dragons weren't able to capitalize on the mistakes, however, gaining only four points. The Lady Saints quickly rebounded and went on a 10-3 run, taking the lead with a Vanessa Caro three. Seward turned around finished the quarter on a 7-2 run capped off with a Mollie Mounsey lay up to take an eight-point lead into the second quarter, 17-9.
For the second straight game, Mounsey exploded in the first quarter. She scored eight of her 15 points in the first. The Lady Saints shot 50% from the field on 7 of 14 shooting, while holding the Blue Dragons to 36.4% on 4 of 11 from the floor.
The Lady Saints continued their hot shooting to start the second quarter, going on a 10-2 run in the first four minutes, capped by another Caro three, to go up 27-11. The Blue Dragons had no answer for Seward, as the Lady Saints extended the score to 38-18 to take a 20-point lead into halftime.
"Our pace on offense and our energy level on defense was something they hadn't seen before, and it took them a while to get adjusted.," said head coach Toby Wynn.
The Lady Saints shot an even 50% from behind the arc in the first half, connecting on seven of their 14 attempts. Defensively, they forced the Blue Dragons into 22 turnovers, 12 of which came from steals. Mounsey came away with five of the Lady Saints takeaways.
Seward extended their lead to 21 early in the third quarter with a Vilma Covane free throw, but then hit a dry spell. Over the next seven minutes, the Lady Saints would miss all eight of them shots and turn the ball over four times, as the Blue Dragons cut the lead to seven points, thanks to a 14-0 run. A back-door layup by Valerie Caro broke the scoreless streak and helped the Lady Saints end the quarter on an 8-4 run to push the lead back to 10, with the score being 49-39.
The fourth quarter was a slugfest, with both teams vying desperately to pick up the first conference win against their rival. While Seward held the lead, the Blue Dragons wouldn't give in. With two minutes left in the game, Tia Bradshaw connected on a three-pointer to pull Hutchinson within five points. But just as their last game went, the Lady Saints turned to their bend-but-don't-break mentality.
The Lady Saints answered the Blue Dragons triple with two three-point plays of their own. Mounsey connected on a shot behind the arc, before Covane hit a contested layup and drained the free throw that followed to put the Lady Saints up 11. One more layup by Silvia Veloso would be the dagger, giving the Lady Saints the 13-points victory by a score of 60-47.
Seward cooled down in the second half, finishing the game shooting 39.3% from the floor. Three Lady Saints finished with double digit points – Mounsey (15), Veloso (12), and Caro (10). Veloso was one rebound shy of a double-double, ending the game with 9.
The Lady Saints defense played a vital role, holding the Blue Dragons to just 47 points after averaging 81.5 through the first two games. Hutchinson was also forced into 34 turnovers, 20 of which were steals.
The Lady Saints will host the Butler Grizzlies in the Greenhouse at 6:00 p.m. next Wednesday (Nov. 15).