LIBERAL, Kan. – Defensive intensity proved to be the difference in the Greenhouse Wednesday night as the No. 15 Seward County women's basketball team defeated Independence 63-52.
Seward (12-2, 8-2) moved into a four-way tie for first place in the Jayhawk conference with Cowley, Hutchinson and Independence all sitting at 8-2 in conference play on the season.
The Lady Saints came out of the gates aggressive, taking a 7-2 lead in just over three minutes, with Lexi Hernandez accounting for five of the points. The Pirates cut the lead to two, making the score 7-9, but Seward ended the quarter on an 8-2 run to head into the second with an eight-point lead.
Independence was held to just 17.6 percent shooting (3 of 17), including only 9.1 percent (1 of 11) from behind the arc. Meanwhile, the Lady Saints finished the quarter making 7 of 17 attempts (41.2%).
Seward picked up where they left off in the second quarter, going on a 9-2 run over the first three minutes of the quarter. The Pirates battled back however, going on their own 12-1 run to cut the lead to three points, before Mollie Mounsey connected on a deep three-pointer to beat the buzzer at halftime.
The third quarter ended up being the difference maker for the Lady Saints, as they amped up their intensity. Seward forced the Pirates into 12 turnovers, with 11 of them being steals. Silvia Veloso came away with four steals, while Sidney Tinner, Hernandez and Mounsey each took two of their own. The defense helped the Lady Saints to a 19-12 scoring advantage in the third and extended their lead to 13.
The pressure continued into the fourth quarter, as the Pirates struggled to make their shoots. Seward held Independence to just 18.2 percent from the floor and 16.7 percent from behind the arc, limiting the Pirates to just five points from field goals. The Pirates ultimately cut the Seward lead to 11 points, but couldn't pull any closer, as the Lady Saints took the win 63-52.
Seward forced 31 turnovers on the day, with 17 of them being steals. Four Lady Saints recorded at least three steals – Veloso (5), Mounsey (4), Hernandez (3) and Tinner (3) – while Amy Scott added two more. Mounsey (21 pts) and Hernandez (15 pts) were the lone Lady Saints to score in double-figures.
The Lady Saints will have a brief two-game road stretch. They will travel to Colby on Saturday (Jan. 6) at 6:00 p.m. to take on the Trojans. Colby will live-stream the game and it can be heard on 107.5 KSCB with Brock Kappelmann (pxp) on the call.