The second half was instrumental in the outcome of both of the Northeast Community College basketball games Wednesday evening.
In the women’s game the Hawks trailed at the end of the first half but rallied during the opening eight minutes of the third period to take a lead, then trailed again in the fourth quarter before coming from behind to secure a 59-57 win over the North Dakota State College of Science of Wahpeton, North Dakota.
The Northeast men, however, after an evenly-played first half that ended with the Hawks leading 39-36, struggled throughout a second half in which anything that could go wrong did go wrong as the Hawks lost 85-61.
Good ball movement in the first period wasn’t enough to produce quality shot opportunities for the Northeast women against the hustling and aggressive NDSCS man-to-man defense, and as a result the Hawks managed just one field goal while scoring six of their eight-point total from the free throw line.
“John Wooden called that ‘activity without achievement,’” Hawks coach Matt Svehla said. “We made some bad reads, but they were a really good defensive team. Their help side defense is really good, and we had talked about that. Sometimes you just have to get through it and hope that you can defend on the other end well enough.”
“We thought our best chance of containing them was to go zone, but even then, we’re kind of small in the zone, so when they went big, they still got us on the high-low pass,” Svehla said. “Their offensive rebounding really hurt us at times. If we had contained that and made free throws I think it would have been a more comfortable finish.”
A problem for the Hawks’ zone was locating the Wildcats’ 3-point shooter Emily-Kate Parker who opened the game with a long 3, then added another early in the second period.
“Playing man-to-man against them, with their athleticism, especially when they put their two big players in the game was a problem, but we tried playing man a couple of times,” Svehla said. “We were sort of out-to-lunch early. We knew what they were going to run, but we couldn’t run it against ourselves well enough in practice to represent things they could do. We wanted to know where (Parker) was, but she got us twice in the first half.”
Consequently, Northeast trailed 15-8 entering the second quarter--a deficit that expanded to 29-16 with just two minutes remaining in the half--but that’s when Kyla Moore sparked the Hawks.
Moore started her own seven-point run with a 3 from the right wing, scored on a layup after a steal in the front court, then added a deflection that teammate Beth Matas grabbed and returned to Moore for another layup to end the half with Northeast trailing 29-23.
“We were fortunate with the way Kyla showed up to play, because some other people weren’t on their ‘A-game’ tonight,” Svehla said.
Moore--a sophomore product of Norfolk High--began the second half with the same intensity and effort that had inspired the Hawks in the second quarter. After pulling down a defensive rebound, Moore sent a long outlet pass to Breanna Stouffer that Stouffer relayed to Matas for a layup, then started another fastbreak with a steal and outlet pass to Matas that Emina Hadzihusejnovic finished with a layup.
Matas scored on another fast break, and Northeast tied the score at 31-all when Macey Kulhanek, a sophomore from Howells-Dodge, sent a long pass to Moore for another transition layup.
Although NDSCS took another lead on a basket inside by Kate Carlson and Moore answered with a baseline drive, a pair of Kulhanek 3s allowed the Hawks to end the third period with a 40-37 lead.
“I was pleased that we weathered the storm and had gotten to halftime down only six,” Svehla said. “Finally we settled in and capitalized on a couple of their turnovers. We were able to scramble our way to some points. I thought Macey’s 3s were huge and, obviously, Kyla’s defense created opportunities.”
Northeast’s first field goal of the fourth quarter was the result of another Moore steal, but the Wildcats answered with a 10-0 run that produced a 47-42 lead with just over four minutes to play.
“In the second half Monique Wooten really hurt us in the high post,” Svehla said. “They did some things different in the second half. We changed our zone late in the game, trying to have our guards help defend the high post.”
That change, along with consecutive 3-point field goals by Moore and Stouffer, returned Northeast to the lead at 48-47--although a Wooten basket inside had NDSCS ahead briefly once again, until another 3 and fastbreak layup by Moore put the Hawks up for good at 53-49.
Another basket inside by Wooten and a steal converted into a layup by Zaraya March reduced the Northeast lead to 54-53 but two free throws by Matas and one last 3 by Moore countered consecutive baskets inside by Carlson, and kept the Hawks ahead at 59-57 with less than minute remaining in the game.
“They hit us with traps there at the end, and we were hanging on by the skin of our teeth against some of that,” Svehla said. “That kind of caught us off guard; we have not seen that in about 10 ballgames.”
A timeout by the Wildcats produced a missed 3-point attempt by Parker, and sent Moore to the free throw line for two chances to increase Northeast’s two-point advantage, but two misses provided NDSCS with another timeout and an offensive opportunity that failed when Wooten’s drive to the basket bounced off the rim, securing the Hawks 59-57 win.
“I thought Kyla’s energy, her passion, especially in the second half, just willed us to a win,” Svehla said. “Of course, making shots was huge, but I thought our people fed off that and we started defending better.”
Moore, who had not scored in the first quarter, finished the game with 26 points to lead all scorers. She made 11-of-20 field goal attempts, including 4-of-7 3-point tries, and also recorded six steals. Kulhanek’s stat line off the bench consisted of 2-of-2 from the field--both 3-pointers--and 4-of-4 from the free throw line for 10 points.
With the win Northeast improves to 13-2 on the season, while the Wildcats slip to 13-2 with the loss.
In the men’s game the Hawks, now 8-6, played an even game against 10-2 NDSCS during the first half of a game that saw the team’s tied five times until Northeast took a 39-36 lead into intermission on a Ben Moxness 3.
But the Wildcats opened the second half with a 9-0 run that--although interrupted by a pair of free throws by the Hawks’ Asher Scavella and a field goal by Michael Anderson--extended without a Northeast point until NDSCS led 67-43.
That 31-4 run, which didn’t end until another Anderson basket with eight minutes left in the game, included eight drives to the basket by the Wildcats against the Hawks man-to-man defense. Other noticeable NDSCS statistical advantages included a 42-27 rebounding advantage and 52 percent field goal success as the Wildcats cruised to the 85-61 win.
Only Scavella, with 14 points and eight rebounds, finished the game with notable stats for the Hawks, who shot 35 percent from the field but made only 4-of-29 3-point attempts--for 13 percent.
North Dakota State College of Science 15 14 8 20 -- 57
Northeast Community College 8 15 17 19 -- 59
NDSCS (13-2): Zaraya March 3-6 0-3 6, Anajiah Wallace 0-6 2-2 2, Emily-Kate Parker 4-13 0-0 11, Emma Ogitchida 1-3 0-0 2, Nikki Metcalfe 1-9 6-6 8, Monique Wooten 3-8 0-0 6, Asia Smith 2-6 1-2 7, Kate Carlson 6-8 3-5 15. Totals: 20-59 12-18 57.
NECC (13-2): Beth Matas 3-11 3-5 9, Kyla Moore 11-20 0-6 26, Emina Hadzihusejnovic 4-8 0-0 8, Breanna Stouffer 1-2 2-2 5, Lorna Maxon 0-2 0-0 0, Julia Carbonell 0-5 0-0 0, Katarina Zagorac 0-1 0-0 0, Jacalyn Schwanebeck 0-1 1-2 1, Macey Kulhanek 2-2 4-4 10. Totals: 21-52 10-19 59.
North Dakota State College of Science 36 49 -- 85
Northeast Community College 39 22 -- 61
NDSCS (10-2): Khan Broadway 6-8 3-4 15, Diang Gatluak 2-5 3-3 7, Marquis Holloman 3-5 3-3 11, Duoth Gach 1-4 0-0 2, Jeremiah Smith 3-4 0-1 6, Mohamed Kone 5-7 3-4 14, Moses Suleiman 1-2 0-0 3, Uhana Ochan 2-6 2-6 6, Noble Cooper 5-12 2-2 12, Damien Gordon 3-6 2-2 9. Totals: 31-59 18-25 85.
NECC (8-6): Emmette Page 3-12 2-2 9, Oyiti Amum 2-9 2-2 6, Daniel Akuei 2-7 2-2 7, Asher Scavella 5-11 4-7 14, Ben Moxness 2-8 0-0 5, Merrix Denn 2-5 0-0 5, Michael Anderson 6-10 0-0 12, Deon’ta Tinker 0-2 0-0 0, Abdul Wurie 1-1 1-2 3. Totals: 23-65 11-15 61.