CONCORDIA – Facing a 20-9 deficit after 10 minutes of play, the Cloud County Community College women's basketball team never would be able to fully recover in a 63-52 defeat to visiting Pratt Community College in Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference play inside of Arley Bryant Gymnasium in Concordia, Kansas on Saturday, January 11th.
With KJCCC cross-division play complete, the T-Birds are now 7-11 overall and 2-6 in the KJCCC while the Beavers moved to 11-5 overall and 5-2 in conference action.
"Give credit to Pratt today as they were more aggressive than us getting to the basket and it gave them opportunities at the free throw line" said head coach Brett Erkenbrack in a post-game interview. "It seemed like they also gave some opportunities to get to the basket, but we weren't aggressive enough to either convert the opportunities or draw fouls that would give us free throw opportunities." "When we get outscored by 23 points at the free throw line like we did today, it's going to be difficult against any opponent we play." "We had a hard time scoring the basketball at times today, and once we did cut the deficit down to a single-possession in the fourth we stopped playing defense for a bit that allowed them to push their lead back out which we never recovered from."
It would take nearly two minutes before a points would be registered on the scoreboard in the game as LaKya Leslie would break a scoreless tie with a layup at the 8:17 mark of the first quarter. Pratt would then score the next five before seeing Leslie get another layup as the freshman would score the first six CCCC points to help Cloud County keep within striking distance after seeing the Beavers score 13 of the first 19 points of the game. A Jasmina Jones triple with 1:46 left in the opening period would pull Cloud County back within four at 13-9, but it would be the final points of the quarter for the T-Birds as Pratt a three-point basket, two free throws, and a layup to take a 20-9 lead going to the second quarter.
Points would be hard to come by once again at the start of the second as Cloud County would go the first 2:43 of the quarter without a point before finally getting a pair of Kelsie Kelly layups to get the deficit back down to single digits. Each team would then utilize what was working for them in the game as the final six Pratt points of the first half would come at the charity stripe while CCCC would connect on three triples including an Alyssa Castilleja three at the buzzer to trail 28-22 at halftime.
A quick bucket for Cloud County open the third quarter got the T-Birds back within four at 28-24, but it would be quickly erased by five quick points from the Beavers. CCCC would respond with a 9-3 run as a transition layup from Isabella Vazquez would get Cloud County within a single possession at 36-33 to force a Pratt timeout with 5:45 left in the third quarter. The T-Birds would continue to battle, eventually closing within two on back-to-back possessions, but PCC would match Cloud County point-for-point and get a pair of free throws in the final seconds of the quarter to push their lead to 46-42 heading to the fourth.
Two Haven Hamilton layups in the opening 74 seconds of the final period would get Cloud County within two one final time, but an 8-0 Pratt run would send things back to a double-digit deficit for the T-Birds who would be forced to use a timeout. The lead for Pratt would grow to as many as 12 in the final three minutes of action as Cloud County would be unable to make any more headway on the deficit to fall by a final margin of 11.
Large advantages in points off turnovers (23-7) and free throws (24-1) would allow Pratt to overcome a 24-20 advantage by Cloud County in points in the paint as the T-Birds would get just under half of their offense from buckets within the paint. Cloud County would also continue their recent three-point shooting by going seven-for-23 (30.4 percent) from beyond the arc while the Beavers connected on just 25 percent (five-of-20) of their attempts from three.
Cloud County would fail to have a player reach double-figure points as Castilleja and Jacy Dalinghaus would each score nine to lead the T-Birds. Leslie would score eight points and grab eight rebounds, while Jones would score eight of CCCC's 15 bench points.
KJCCC East Division leader and nationally ranked Butler Community College will come to Concordia on a short turnaround for Cloud County as the T-Birds and the number 25 Grizzlies will face off on Monday at 6 p.m. Butler will enter with a 12-5 overall record and 5-2 mark in the KJCCC after having their game at Garden City postponed on Saturday due to weather and road conditions.