MCC women lose Gott, still triumph over Iowa Lakes
Starter or benchwarmer, Steve Garber expects the same readiness and intensity from every one of his players.
That mentality is becoming more important by the day as the roster grows shorter.
For the second game in a row, the Tigers lost a player from their starting lineup when Mackenzie Gott was tangled up fighting for a loose ball and came out of the fray with a knee injury.
Jamerka Martin picked up the slack with 18 of her game-high 21 points in the first half and some solid support from the bench helped the Tigers stave off a second half rally from Iowa Lakes for a 62-52 victory Wednesday in an Iowa Community College Athletic Conference Division II game.
“Whether you start or come off the bench, you’re just as important as everyone else,” said Garber. “We go over that mentality with the players that when you’re on the bench, that is a position and you’re ready to play and contribute. That kind of showed tonight with the bench players coming in and stabilizing some of our offense and defense.”
The Tigers needed something to find their footing in the second half.
Iowa Lakes came out of the locker room with a 22-8 flurry and pulled within 45-40 on Macy Dahl’s bucket midway through the frame. The Lakers stayed within seven before Martin drilled a corner 3-pointer and Danielle Montgomery drained two free throws to give MCC (12-4, 3-3) some cushion with just under five minutes left. The Lakers never drew closer than eight the rest of the way as the Tigers wrapped up their second straight win despite Gott’s injury and just five points from leading scorer Jasmin Howe.
“Our bench was the key to our success tonight,” said Garber. “They didn’t score thousands of points but they did little things that make the big things happen and had some composure.”
Ilsie Calles (9 points, 4 assists), Montgomery (6 points, 11 rebounds) and Rusty Henio (7 rebounds) each contributed in reserve roles, while Ashley Salgado tallied 12 points, four assists and four steals.
Courtney Williams-Perry added seven points and nine rebounds.
Martin scored eight quick points as MCC (12-4, 3-3) led 11-0 less than four minutes in, before Gott went down awkwardly while fighting for a rebound.
The injury seemed to take some wind out of the Tigers’ sail as the Lakers (4-14, 1-4) scored the next five points and closed within 19-15.
Martin’s jumper ignited 15 unanswered points for MCC over the next four minutes as it stretched the lead as high as 21 and led 37-18 at the half.
“Jamerka played as good of a game as she’s had,” said Garber. “She had a lull in there and at this point in her career she’s not able to handle the intensity for a long period of time, but she’s really developed her stamina since October. She’s extended herself but she still needs some breaks.”
MCC’s offense hit a lull as a whole in the second half as the Tigers shot just 30 percent in the second half after connecting at 48 percent in the first. Iowa Lakes more than doubled its clip from 23 to 48 percent as Lakers coach Nicole Bullock woke up her squad at the break.
“We had a coming-to-Jesus conversation in the locker room at halftime, it must have ignited something,” said Bullock.
“We were asleep the first half so it couldn’t get much worse than what we performed in the first half so we had nowhere to go but up.”
Shabreka Edwards paced the Lakers with 13 points and Nijala Johnson had 12 as the Lakers dropped their fourth straight.
Kaleigh Sieck, who went down with a knee injury in Saturday’s game against DMACC, will receive her MRI results today said Garber.
The Tiger coach is awaiting more information on Gott’s status moving forward.
While the Tigers will miss Gott’s double-double output and Sieck’s outside shooting in the meantime, they’ll maintain the same all-for-one approach they’ve applied all season.
“Everybody is just as important. We don’t put a high stake on any one or two individuals,” said Garber. “It’s a team game. We win together and we lose together and that’s what we try to incorporate into the minds of the players.”
The Tigers travel to Northeast Community College which is receiving votes in the NJCAA Division I poll – for a non-conference game Saturday at 5 p.m.
Williams-Perry was named the ICCAC Defensive Player of the Week Tuesday her second straight week with an ICCAC honor Howe was averaging 16.8 points coming into Wednesday’s game.