COOS BAY — As the Lakers created open shots all night on the way to an NWAC South Region win, Southwestern Oregon Community College women's basketball head coach Jeff Johnson was focused on the other end of the floor.
“It started off with the defense,” said Johnson as the Lakers held the visiting Penguins to 22 percent shooting. “From the start (we) jumped out and just kept going.”
A strong offensive performance paired with a shutdown defense, the SWOCC women’s basketball team put together a dominant 68-47 victory over Clark on Saturday to move to 1-1 in league play.
The Clark team consistently missed open layups, both contested and uncontested, throughout the game as SWOCC continued to pressure its shooters across the court. Missed shots paired with SWOCC snagging seemingly every rebound early on (the Lakers had a 17-4 advantage on the glass after the first quarter), helped the Lakers claim a 20-9 lead after the opening period.
Leading the way on the boards was SWOCC’s Jill Thalman, who had 10 of her 17 rebounds in the first quarter.
“She freaking went off,” said SWOCC’s Jasey Ramelow, who finished with a game-high 21 points. “I think she’s really had to step into that role because Meghan (Holloman) is out for a couple more weeks (with a broken hand) and she was our rebounder. ... Now that that presence is gone I think Jill is really stepping up and getting those boards and making things happen on offense.”
While Thalman, who finished with 12 points, helped set up the offense, it didn’t take long for her teammates to join in on the fun.
With threats all along the perimeter, SWOCC’s offense opened up as the team got hot, and never quite cooled off, from 3-point range. The Lakers finished 12-of-26 as a team from behind the line with Ramelow going five-of-10 from, Kealani Neves three-of-eight and Taylor Morris three-of-five. Neves finished with 17 points and Morris had nine.
“We have a team that’s so all over the place that at any moment anyone can go off. So that’s nice about this year,” said Ramelow. “We were sharing the ball really well, moving the ball really well. Beginning of the season we really struggled, it wasn’t selfish play ... it was a new team. But now we’re connecting so well and it is just making of our offense flow so much better.”
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Effectively working inside and outside, the Lakers, who played six players for the bulk of the minutes, were scoring in any fashion they pleased. SWOCC put together a 17-4 scoring stretch from the end of the first quarter into the second.
Trading buckets throughout an offensively slow third quarter — the Lakers outscored the Penguins 13-10 — SWOCC once again caught fire in the fourth with a 10-0 run to take a 68-38 lead.
“We knocked down some shots, got some confidence going and we went with that,” Johnson said of SWOCC’s offense on the night. “And shooting is contagious. When somebody else sees a shot going in, oh, my shot can go in. All of a sudden everyone is making shots out there.”
Making the final score marginally closer, the Penguins scored the final nine points of the game. Clark's Jodi Thomasian finished with 19 points while Kayla Moore had 10 off the bench.
As the schedule now begins to ramp up, the Lakers were happy about scoring their first league win.
“Just this feeling we have right now, just continue that into next week and the week after,” said Ramelow. “It was just good to get a win under our belt.”
The next test for SWOCC is on the road in Eugene on Wednesday against 13-3 Lane Community College.
“If we rebound and shoot the ball like we did tonight, I like our chances,” said Johnson. “That’s what we’ll continue to focus on — rebounding, rebounding, rebounding.”
The Lakers return to Coos Bay next Saturday at 2 p.m. against Clackamas Community College.