The Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team put three players in double figures and connected on seven 3-pointers in opening the season with an 89-29 win over the Nebraska All-stars on Saturday afternoon at Cougar Palace.
Jess Samorodova paced the Cougars with 13 points followed by Mikayla Brower with 12 points. Gritt Ryder also chipped in 10 points in the win. Brower paced the team with two of the seven three-pointers.Idil Ozbayrak and Lauren Rivera each added nine points.
WNCC coach Dave Harnish, who is starting his 25th year as head coach, said while it was nice to get some playing time for his 11 freshmen, he saw lots of room for improvement.
“I thought we struggled because we didn’t stop the ball because they did a good job penetrating on us and we didn’t do a good job of rotating to stop the ball,” Harnish said. “We really didn’t rebound the ball that well; we were out-rebounded in the first half.
“But the transition was good with a lot of steals and we generated most of our points off transition. But we struggled a little bit offensively to get into the offensive sets. Overall, though, it was a good game for us. It was a first game for the freshmen. It is a good situation where they get to put the uniforms on, people are here to watch, and we can get the first-game jitters out and get ready to play down in Colby.”
WNCC controlled the tempo from the get-go, but the Nebraska All-stars battled for the entire game. The Cougars held a 40-37 rebound advantage over the All-stars that consisted of a number of former Cougar players and high school basketball stars who graduated within the past two years.
WNCC jumped out to an 16-3 lead as Samorodova had eight early points while Rider scored five straight points. The All-stars made a slight comeback, scoring four straight points to cut the lead to 16-7 on three points from former Gering High and WNCC Cougar Yoda Woods, but the Cougars would go on a 9-0 and later an 8-0 run. Both runs were highlighted by freshmen players as Brower connected on seven points, including a 3-pointer. Kate Kerkhoff also had four points.
The Cougars led 48-14 at halftime on two field goals each by Alyssa Yates, Ozbayrak and Maurissa Ortega.
The Cougars shot 48 percent from the field, including making 18 of 22 free throws. WNCC also connected on 7 of 19 treys. The Cougars defense also limited the All-stars to just 16 percent shooting. The all-stars, however, were sizzling from the free throw line, connecting on 12 of 18 charity shots.
WNCC also shared the ball well, dishing out 31 assists. Ryder, the sophomore transfer from the University of Alaska Anchorage, had seven assists followed by Ortega with six assists. Ryder also had four steals while Ortega had six steals.
The Nebraska All-stars were led by Ashley (Burns) Guzman and Woods with eight points each.
WNCC, 1-0, will next be in action next weekend when they travel to Colby, Kan., for a 3-day tournament.
Harnish said this was a good tune-up for his young team heading into the rest of the season.
“This is the first game for 11 kids and I am sure they were nervous,” he said. “This was a good chance for them to get the butterflies out and hopefully they will play better when we go down to Colby.”
NE All-stars 14 15 – 29
WNCC (1-0) 48 41 – 89
Rebecca (Hughes) Martinez 4, Tera (Schmid) Segelke 2, Ashley (Burns) Guzman 8, Kelsey Kudrna 1, Shantel Muniz 2, Samantha Sanders 3, April Olson 1, Yoda Woods 8.
Mikayla Brower 13, Lauren Rivera 9. Kelsey Doddridge 3, Gritt Ryder 10, Shalisa Moffitt 3, Katie Kerkhoff 6, Maurissa Ortega 7, Idil Ozbayrak 9, Michelle Brassard 3, Alyssa Yates 6, Ashley Stevens 2, Jessica Aratani 4, Jess Samovodova 13.