[ By STEVE CARPENTER ]
[ BLUE DRAGON SPORTS INFORMATION ]
INDEPENDENCE, Kan. — The No. 18-ranked Hutchinson Community College women’s basketball team extended a pair of winning streaks Wednesday night, but needed a grind-out type effort to get the job done at Independence.
With their leading scorer mired in foul trouble and Independence’s defense swarming, the Blue Dragons battled for a 56-53 victory at the ICC Fieldhouse in a showdown of two of the four teams tied for the Jayhawk Conference lead when the day started.
Hutchinson’s winning streak is now up to 12 games heading into a four-game homestand that starts on Saturday against Dodge City. The Blue Dragons won their 14th-straight game over the Pirates.
The Blue Dragons improve to 14-2 overall and remain tied with Seward County and Cowley for first place in the Jayhawk at 10-2. Independence falls to 11-4 overall and 9-3 in the KJCCC.
Hutchinson led 24-14 early in the second quarter, but with leading scorer Jada Mickens on the bench with two fouls, Independence closed the half on a 20-4 run to take a 34-28 lead with seconds remaining in the half. The Dragons trailed only 34-31 at halftime as Tia Bradshaw banked in a 3-pointer at the buzzer.
The Blue Dragons recovered and held Independence to only six third-quarter points and led 41-40 after three quarters. Hutchinson never relinquished the lead in the fourth quarter, but Independence had six possessions in the final 10 minutes to tie or take the lead. The Pirates went 0 of 6 in those situations.
Freshman Sara Cramer scored 12 points to lead the Blue Dragons. Cramer hit three 3-pointers and three huge free throws in the final stages of the fourth quarter to preserve the victory.
Freshman Dejanae Roebuck had 11 points, a game-high seven rounds and three assists. Playing only 19 minutes because of foul trouble, Mickens finished with 10 points and three steals. Alicia Brown, Bradshaw and Kayla Barber all had seven points each.
The Blue Dragons shot 40.8 percent for the game (20 of 49), hitting 6 of 17 3-pointers and 10 of 14 from the free-throw line. The Dragons were out-rebounded for the first time this season, 31-29. Hutch had 16 turnovers.
Fatarah Kinnard and Erica Moore had 12 points each to lead Independence. Elif Aktas had 11 points.
The Pirates were 20 of 48 shooting (41.7 percent) overall, 7 of 20 from 3-point range and 6 of 15 from the free-throw line. The Pirates had 14 turnovers.
There were four early lead changes in the first quarter, but when Kinnard hit a 3-pointer with 2:47 to play in the opening period, the Dragons trailed 12-8. The Blue Dragons responded with 13 unanswered points in a run that continued into the second quarter. The Dragons took a 13-12 lead on a Brown free throw. They took a 19-12 lead at the first-quarter buzzer on a Cramer 3-pointer. Barber scored on Hutch’s first possession of the second half to lead 21-12. Hutch’s 13-0 run was over 3 minutes, 16 seconds.
Barber hit a 3-pointer to extend that surge to 16-2 and give the Blue Dragons their largest lead of 10 at 24-14 with 8:24 to play in the second quarter. Indy went on a 10-2 run to pull within 2-24 with 3:20 to play. Brown scored inside to stop that run. Indy came back with another run of 10 unanswered run by Cayla Trotter with 9 seconds to go for a 34-28 lead.
Bradshaw then hit her halfcourt buzzer-beater to cut the Dragon deficit to 34-31 at halftime.
The Dragons erased their deficit with a Cramer 3-pointer with 7:13 to play in the third that knotted the game at 34. The Blue Dragons held Indy to 1 of 9 shooting in the third quarter and outscored the Pirates 10-6 to lead 41-40 after three periods.
The Blue Dragons held Independence scoreless for the first 4:21 of the fourth quarter and extended the lead to 45-40 on a pair of baskets by Roebuck. She scored again at the 4:14 mark to give Hutch a 48-43 lead and when Mickens knocked down a jumper with 2:44 left, Hutch led 50-44. The Pirates scored on their next two possessions to pull within 50-48.
Leading 53-50, the Dragons got a key defensive stop when Alicia Brown intercepted an Indy entry pass. Cramer hit two free throws with 19.1 seconds to go for a 55-50 lead. Kinnard banked in a 3-pointer with 9.4 seconds to go to pull the Pirates within 55-53. Cramer was fouled with 5.1 seconds left. She hit the first, but missed the second free throw for a three-point lead. Indy was unable to get a shot off before the buzzer sounded.
GAME NOTES – The Blue Dragons are now 22-11 all-time against Independence, 8-2 at the ICC Fieldhouse. … The Dragons are now 1-2 in games when trailing at halftime this season. … Dejanae Roebuck‘s five assists tied a career high. … Sara Cramer had at least three 3-pointers in a game for the fourth time in the last six games.