COOS BAY — A slow start was too much for the Southwestern Oregon Community College women’s basketball team to overcome on Wednesday night.
The visiting No. 1 Lane Titans jumped to an early 16-2 lead and rode it to an 83-65 win, spoiling SWOCC’s NWAC home opener in the process. Megan Still led all scorers with 27 points on nine 3-pointers for Lane and three Lakers each scored 12 points: Madison Bell, Keiko Aotaki and Jasey Ramelow.
“The biggest thing is no quit,” Lakers coach Jeff Johnson said. “We got down early but they kept battling and battling.”
Though Still was the offensive story, it wasn’t just her who helped Lane (15-1, 3-0) to its big early lead.
Megan Fossen hit two 3s during the initial spurt with points also coming from Kalina Rojas, Maya India Thomas and Still’s first 3.
SWOCC (5-9, 0-3) came out in a man-to-man defense, but quickly switched to a 3-2 zone after Johnson called two timeouts in the first four minutes.
The Titans started in a press and forced eight first-quarter turnovers before settling back into an athletic and malleable zone the Lakers struggled to penetrate. SWOCC would move the zone one way then try a skip pass over the top, intending to find a hole in it.
But Lane’s zone was too athletic, moving back to prevent any openings. The Lakers struggled against it all night.
“I believe they’re ranked No. 1 for a reason,” Johnson said.
SWOCC, though, tried to crawl back into the game.
The Lakers ended the first period down 10 at 26-16. Aotaki hit two 3-pointers in the first quarter, providing most of SWOCC’s offense.
But then Still got hot.
The sophomore from Hillsboro hit five 3-pointers in the second quarter as Lane extended its lead to 21 at at halftime, 49-28.
“They got three or four shooters that can light it up,” Johnson said.
Behind seven points from Bell in the third quarter, SWOCC outscored Lane 21-17.
The Lakers didn’t quit.
Jessica Peterson scored an and-one in the fourth quarter and was noticeably excited about the feat despite the 16-point spread.
But every time the Lakers appeared to make a run to make it interesting, the top-ranked Titans rattled off consecutive scoring possessions to stretch the lead.
The loss wasn’t a total one, though.
The Lakers are one of the youngest teams in the conference, fielding a relatively small roster with just one sophomore: Bell.
The Lakers are three games into its NWAC schedule, the first league journey for nine of SWOCC’s 10 rostered players, and there is still optimism in the locker room.
“We’ve seen ups and downs,” Bell said. “We’ve gone through preseason and then in league it’s completely different. The tempo changes like this game's really matter. So then maybe it’s a little more pressure when they’re just adjusting to all that.”
SWOCC visits Chemeketa on Saturday and is home again next Wednesday against Umpqua.