By Garth Shanklin
For the first time since a 65-52 loss to Sinclar on Wednesday, Nov. 1, the UC Clermont Lady Cougars played in front of their home fans in the first half of a doubleheader against Penn State Greater Allegheny on Friday, Nov. 17.
While the men’s team watched before their home opener later in the evening, the Lady Cougars put on a defensive display, limiting their opponents to just 18 total rebounds in the game en route to a 75-46 victory.
The Lady Cougars used a blistering offensive start to jump ahead 22-16 after the first period of play.
The team’s defense took over in the second, limiting their opponent to just seven points in the period, giving the Lady Cougars ad 36-23 halftime lead.
UC Clermont added 39 more points in the second half while holding Penn State Greater Allegheny to 23 in the final 20 minutes of play.
Head coach Rick Hosea said the Lady Cougars had a balanced scoring attack, led by a player who posted a career-high in points.
“We had four in double figures,” Hosea said. “That was the best game of Jesse Pryor’s career, she had 17 tonight.”
Pryor finished the game with those 17 points, seven rebounds and four assists. Arica Stutz completed the double-double with 16 rebounds and 12 points. Four of the five Lady Cougar starters finished with double-digit points. A fifth player, Kacy Broughton, added 15 points off the bench for the team.
“[Broughton’s] only played two games, so that’s easily the best game of her career,” Hosea said.
The Lady Cougars dominated the rebounding numbers, collecting 46 rebounds while limiting their opponent to just 18 boards. The team also forced 12 steals, three each by Stutz, Keylynn McQueen and Brianna Beasley. Hosea said the Lady Cougars’ height advantage helped them dominate the boards.
“The other team didn’t have much height,” Hosea said. “We scored inside pretty much at will. Our three-point shooting, which wasn’t there at all last game was decent tonight. It’s still not where it can be.”
Defensively, the Lady Cougars were finally able to turn to a man-to-man defense after their lack of depth early in the season forced them to play zone.
“The scored 16 in the first quarter, then seven, 13 and 10,” Hosea said. “Our defense got better as the game went on as well. That was the first time we were able to play man, we haven’t had the numbers. We’ve been forced to play zone.”
Part of the benefit of playing a team like Penn State Greater Allegheny is the chance to see how the team reacts to a squad that is able to get up and down the court quickly, according to Hosea.
“They’re a quick team,” Hosea said. “It’s a good challenge for us to have to play man against a quick team. I wasn’t happy in the first quarter but after that I was, we’ll get better.”
One player who played well on defense was Beasley, who only scored six points but collected eight assists and a trio of steals.
“Beasley played a great game,” Hosea said. “She had her hand in on I don’t know how many defensive plays. She didn’t have her typical offensive game, but she was very good defensively.”
With McQueen and Ashley Johnson each scoring 11 points in the game, the Lady Cougars offense was extremely balanced in the victory. Hosea said he’s not concerned with which player scores as long as the Lady Cougars get the points.
“Like I always tell the girls, I don’t care who scores as long as we score,” Hosea said. “Beasley had some great passes. She was still a leader even though she wasn’t shooting as well as normal. Overall, we’re improving.”
The team has the remainder of the week off before traveling to Kentucky Christian University for the Super 8 Classic on Thursday, Nov. 30. The three-day tournament also has contests at 2 p.m. on Dec. 1 against Johnson and 11 a.m. on Dec. 2 against Randall. The Lady Cougars return home on Saturday, Dec. 9 for the Phil Sinkovich Classic against Warren Wilson at 5 p.m.