Tigers shock rated Tritons

The Tigers’ worst loss of the season may have been the breeding ground for their biggest victory.

Or if nothing else, a spark that helped set the course for Wednesday’s breakout performance.

Avenging a 43-point drubbing at the hands of Iowa Central Community College back on December 14, the Marshalltown Community College women’s basketball team rallied for its biggest win in the Steve Garber era with a 72-70 upset over the NJCAA No. 6-ranked Tritons at the Student Activity Center.

Jasmin Howe poured in a career-best 32 points including a 7-for-9 clip from beyond the arc to help the Tigers (16-6, 7-3) move into a three-way tie for third in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference in Division II.

“The kids were dedicated to playing some defense,” Garber said of the difference between Wednesday night and the 113-70 setback against Iowa Central two months ago.

“You have to guard and compete and we didn’t do that in the first game. We just kind of showed up and thought things were going to get handed to us. After you get thumped a few times by 40, by 30, by 25 you start to realize ‘Hey, there’s something else we have to get better at.'”

The Tigers took those cues on the defensive end where they limited the Tritons (18-4, 7-3) to just 33 percent shooting in the final 20 minutes. Howe made five of her treys during a 20-7 surge as the Tigers came back from a seven-point deficit to move ahead 58-53 with 7:14 to play.

Iowa Central scored 9 of the next 11 to pull back in front just inside of 4 minutes but Howe delivered again with a triple to knot the game at 66 with 1:40 left. Courtney Williams-Perry banked in a shot clock buzzer-beater from the elbow to put MCC on top for good with 53 seconds remaining and the Tigers held on despite hitting just four of their last eight attempts at the line.

Koyamainavure’s three-point play pulled the Tritons within 70-69 and her first free throw make kept the margin at one after Howe split a pair. Though Koyamainavure’s second attempt was off the mark and Williams-Perry secured the rebound, hit 1-of-2 at the line and the MCC defense held strong on the Tritons’ final possession for the win.

Iowa Central closed the first half on a 15-7 run to stake a 38-33 cushion and used two quick 3-pointers and a free throw by Koyamainvure to grab a 47-40 advantage less than 7 minutes into the second stanza.

The Tigers responded by slowing the pace to find quality looks while taking the Tritons out of their comfort zone. MCC was methodical at the offensive end but Howe used a quick trigger from the corner to spur the Tigers to a five-point lead.

“She’s fully capable of scoring 32 a night,” Garber said of the Australian. “You have to be mentally prepared to where you can catch it and shoot it on a consistent basis. She was more aggressive, Jamerka (Martin) was more aggressive in the first half and some of the things we worked on of not hesitating and shooting without thinking showed up tonight.”

Martin added 14 points, Courtney Williams-Perry corralled 13 rebounds and Ashley Salgado tallied 10 points, 11 assists and six rebounds as MCC came out top in a thriller with 17 lead changes and 10 ties.

“Everybody was contributing so they couldn’t just shut down one or two players,” Salgado said. “They had the whole team to deal with and that’s what he have a whole team.”

The Tigers welcomed back Mackenzie Gott, who had been sidelined with a left knee injury since Jan. 15, and the sophomore responded with six points and four rebounds in 27 minutes while also opening things up for her teammates.

“It’s really good to have Mackenzie back on the floor,” Howe said. “Her post work getting (the ball) in and getting it back out gives opportunities for the shooters because she draws the ‘D’ and then kicks it out to our shooters. They have to worry about the outside and the inside.”

Lydia Harvey led Iowa Central with 18 points, Katie Dentlinger had 16 and Koyamainavure 13.

The Tigers, which received votes in the NJCAA polls for the second week in a row, have two more stiff challenges right in front of them. MCC travels to top-ranked North Iowa Area CC Saturday for a 1 p.m. tip-off before hosting No. 7 Kirkwood on Feb. 12.

What the Tigers learned from their first meeting with the Tritons was evident on the court Wednesday.

Though what they take away from their breakthrough win, will reveal itself in their next two games and beyond said Garber.

“It should give them confidence. We feel we can play with any Division II team in the country but there’s certain things we have to do in order for that to happen,” Garber said. “We didn’t do some things very well tonight that we can work on and so it’s just a matter of coming in and responding to a win just like you respond to a loss. You have to respond to a good win with just the same urgency.”