Tale of two halves as Tigers fall to NIACC women

The halftime break provided the Marshalltown Community College women’s basketball team with a chance to catch its breath, and the NIACC Trojans the opportunity to alter their gameplan.

NIACC employed a full-court press as well as a half-court zone trap after the intermission, putting the pressure on a shorthanded Tiger lineup and forcing MCC into 31 turnovers in a come-from-behind, 66-60 victory for the Trojans in Saturday’s ICCAC Division II clash at the Student Activity Center.

A passive NIACC squad got run out of the gym by Marshalltown (8-13, 3-6) in the first half, as the Tigers turned every offensive possession into a track meet and converted for a 35-21 halftime lead.

But the rest of the game was nearly all NIACC.

The Trojans (13-9, 6-3) scored their fourth consecutive win by forcing MCC into 19 second-half turnovers, outscoring their hosts 45-25 after the break. Even when the chance to come back presented itself in NIACC’s poor free-throw shooting, the Tigers did not have enough players on the court who had a foul to spare.

MCC did battle without starting center Latrice McMullen as the sophomore continues to battle a knee injury. Her 8 points and 6 rebounds per game were sorely missed, not to mention the extra body on the court.

“We did a lot better than we have been, in the first half we controlled the tempo for the first time in a while,” said MCC coach Alison Lacey. “But foul trouble killed us in the second half. We needed to foul and almost every player on the floor had four fouls.”

The full- and half-court trapping zone pressure led to a 4-minute spell in which Marshalltown never even managed to get a shot up to the rim. In that time the Tigers saw a 39-26 lead evaporate, committing nine turnovers while NIACC rattled off a 15-0 run.

Lateeka Thompson capped the rally with back-to-back 3-pointers, providing the Trojans with their first lead of the game.

“They came out to play hard,” NIACC coach Kelli Terrell said of the Tigers. “They were killing us getting back, they were ready to play and we were taken aback. At halftime we made the proper adjustments.

“We thought we could pressure the guards quite a bit and that seemed pretty effective.”

Mady Van Metre snapped MCC’s scoring drought of nearly 6 minutes with the Tigers’ only 3-pointer of the game. Ashley Salgado scored MCC’s next three points and assisted on two more buckets to put the home team in front, 49-48, and Rusty Henio’s putback layup regained a 51-50 edge.

Another NIACC rally ensued as the Trojans crashed the offensive glass and scored six second-chance points during a 12-2 surge, getting out to a 62-53 lead that was barely safe. NIACC shot 4-for-8 from the free-throw line in the last 1:13 but managed to use enough clock to overcome whatever offense the Tigers could muster.

Thirty-one turnovers and 26 fouls proved too much for MCC to overcome. Lacey was particularly displeased with the 12 first-half turnovers against NIACC’s passive half-court man and zone defenses.

“We’re still improving, we’re still getting better, but I’m just upset we didn’t get the win,” she said. “With the Ellsworth game getting moved back a day, we only had one day to prepare (for NIACC) but we knew they would press and then we turned it over when they weren’t pressing.

“Everyone who handles the ball had more than four turnovers tonight. We just got flustered and panicked.”

The Trojans, who received votes in the latest NJCAA rankings, were led by Chelsey Jacox’s 17 points. Jessica Rogers finished with 13 points, Thompson had 10, while 6-foot center Lashae Brooks had 10 points, 10 rebounds and four blocked shots.

Van Metre tallied 14 points and 13 rebounds while playing all 40 minutes to lead MCC. Shana Lee flourished in a fast-paced first half and had 12 points, while Ashley Salgado scored 11. Mackenzie Gott totaled eight points and a game-high 14 rebounds, but Brooks’ post defense limited her scoring.

Shantal Tobler had seven points before fouling out, and Shakeria Slade scored six points, and Henio contributed six rebounds.

The Tigers have a week to recover and prepare for No. 3 Kirkwood, which hosts MCC next Saturday at 1 p.m.