Tritons put away Tigers early via long ball
FORT DODGE – Before the Marshalltown Community College women’s basketball team realized what was going on, its season was over.
Iowa Central CC jumped out to an 18-0 lead and never looked back in an 80-49 win over the Tigers in the quarterfinals of the NJCAA Division II Region XI Tournament at Hodges Fieldhouse.
The Tritons did most of their damage early with the long ball as Katie Dentlinger reached her season scoring average in the first eight minutes and finished with 21 points in the win as Iowa Central buried 11 treys in the game.
“It is hard to come back from an 18-0 deficit,” MCC coach Alison Lacey said. “It was unreal, but credit Iowa Central. They are a good team, and they were ready to go tonight.”
The Tritons hit five 3-pointers in the first eight minutes and Dentlinger’s third triple during that span gave Iowa Central (22-8) a 23-7 advantage. Dentlinger added consecutive buckets after that to make it 29-9.
Dentlinger came into the game averaging nearly 12 points per game but had 15 in the first nine minutes.
“We usually try to look at the stats and figure out who we need to locate from outside, but with Iowa Central they can all shoot,” Lacey said. “You can’t just stop one or two shooters. They can all shoot and they can all put it on the floor.”
On the flip side, MCC was cold from the floor to start the game. The Tigers missed their first eight shots and did not crack the scoreboard until Mady Van Metre buried two free throws at the 15:25 mark. Van Metre led the Tigers (11-20) with 14 points in the loss.
“In a perfect world, I would like my team to eventually be able to put up 3-pointers like Iowa Central did today,” Lacey said. “We just don’t have the depth to do that right now.”
The Tritons were 11-for-39 from 3-point range for the game but nearly shot themselves out of a big lead in the first half.
They eventually cooled off from long range and allowed MCC a chance to get back in the game. The Tigers though couldn’t take advantage as Van Metre was covered up on the outside and Mackenzie Gott, the Tigers’ second-leading scorer at 11 points per game, was double-teamed down low all night. Gott finished with just three points.
If the Tritons weren’t burying shots from outside, they were crashing the boards and picking up second, third and sometimes fourth shots at the basket.
“When you shoot 3-pointers, the balls come long off the rim, but we had trouble locating the players we were guarding and had trouble locating the ball,” Lacey said. “We weren’t very strong today.”
The closest the Tigers got after the 18-0 start was 14 in the first half and the Tritons led 43-22 at the break.
Iowa Central continued to pour on the points in the second half as a 12-0 run after a Shana Lee bucket to start the final 20 minutes put the Tritons up 55-24. Theresa Doyle’s third triple of the game pushed the lead to 34 and then three straight free throws – two from Miliakere Koyamainavure – gave Iowa Central its biggest lead of the game at 74-37.
The Tigers finished the game on a 12-4 run but it was too little, too late for MCC, which finishes the season with 11 wins.
Lacey said the first step in rebuilding the program will be to find more than seven or eight players to provide significant minutes to the Tigers’ lineup.
“We need more depth and we need players who want to be here,” Lacey said. “We want the players to buy into what we are trying to do here – not that this group did not buy in, they did.
“It was a tough year. Finding shooters will be big for us this offseason, too.”
Latrice McMullen played well down the stretch and finished with 12 points in her final game in Marshalltown. Shana Lee added eight points for the Tigers.
Doyle and Koyamainavure each had 12 points in the win for the Tritons, who will play second-seeded DMACC in the Region XI semifinals on Friday at Southeastern CC in Keokuk. DMACC beat Iowa Lakes, 72-59, in another quarterfinal.
Former Gladbrook-Reinbeck prep Lauren Bengen plays for Iowa Central and finished with four points. Iowa Central came into the game with 797 attempts from 3-point range, which was easily the most in the region. The Tritons only made 28 percent of those attempts though. The Tigers could not participate in the Region XI Tournament last season due to NJCAA sanctions. Top-seeded Kirkwood beat eighth-seeded Ellsworth 65-36 and fifth-seeded Southeastern traveled to Mason City and beat fourth-seeded NIACC 64-55 in the other two quarterfinals. Southwestern was the ninth-place team in the ICCAC standings and did not qualify for the region tournament.