Cloud County Women Take Conference Opener Over Northwest Kansas Tech, 77-35
Returning home to open Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference play, the Cloud County Community College women's basketball team would build an 18-9 lead after one-quarter of play and never look back to take a 77-35 win over Northwest Kansas Technical College inside Arley Bryant Gymnasium on Wednesday, November 16th.
Bouncing back from their first loss of the season this past Saturday at Northeast, Cloud County improves to 5-1 overall and 1-0 in the KJCCC while NW KS Tech drops their second-straight decision to fall to 4-2 overall and 0-1 in conference play.
A choppy opening 10-minutes of action would kick things off as a total of 15 free throws would be attempted in the opening period that would never really find a flow. Getting the only field goal in the opening four minutes of play, sophomore Lilly Smith would give Cloud County a 4-1 lead at the 8:23 mark of the first quarter to go along with four Alize Ruiz free throws that would see CCCC hold a 6-3 lead with just over four minutes run off the clock. A Northwest Kansas Tech free throw would cut the T-Bird lead down to two as the Mavericks would also look to utilize the free throw line early which would lead to a 6-2 spurt by NW KS Tech to put Cloud County in a 9-8 hole. Responding with a Te Araroa Sopoaga layup with just under four minutes left in the quarter to reclaim the lead, CCCC would wind up going on a 10-0 run to end the quarter and double up Northwest Tech by an 18-9 margin heading into the second.
Growing their lead to double digits in the opening seconds of the second quarter, Cloud County would carry over their run by scoring each of the first six points to put things at a 24-9 advantage with just over eight minutes left before halftime. The 15-point lead for the T-Birds would cut to 10 with five straight points from the Mavericks to end a nearly seven-minute scoring drought, but CCCC would ensure that the lead would remain double digits by once again getting to the free throw line with Ruiz hitting two more free throws. Another made bucket by Cloud County would set off a string of the two squads trading the next 10 points in the contest as the T-Birds would add one final point on the 13th made free throw by Ruiz in the first half to put their lead back at 15 heading into the intermission break.
Splitting a pair of free throws before getting a made layup on a Cloud County turnover, Northwest Tech would once again threaten to bring their deficit back under double-digits only to be turned away by the first made CCCC three of the night with Kayla Horton setting off a 13-0 run that would blow the game open and put the T-Birds up 46-21. Continuing to grow their lead throughout the backend of the third quarter, Cloud County would see their lead reach the 30-point mark on a pair of Tereia Steward free throws as things would eventually settle at a 59-32 advantage with 10 minutes left in the game.
Putting things out of reach for good, Cloud County would open the final period of action with a 10-0 run that would see the T-Birds continue to pour it on as the Mavericks would be held to just two points throughout the opening six-plus minutes of the fourth. With the game in hand, CCCC would manage to outscore the Mavericks 5-1 down the stretch to finish off what would become a 42-point victory to get back in the win column in a big way.
Giving up their fewest points to an opponent yet, Cloud County would command nearly every stat category in the evening after shooting 40.7 percent (24-of-59) from the field while going six-of-22 (27.3 percent) from three with all six made three's coming in the second half. A 28-11 advantage in points off turnovers and a 23-4 advantage in second-chance points would also be key factors in the win for the T-Birds who also held a 52-33 advantage on the glass with 20 offensive rebounds.
An 18-point, 15-rebound effort from Ruiz would lead all players in the contest in both categories for her fourth double-double of the season. Joining the sophomore in double-figures would be both Steward (14 points) and Horton (13 points) off the bench as Horton would also grab a career-high eight rebounds. Northwest Tech would not have a single-player reach double-figures and be led by a team-best nine points from Mariam Sanogo who played a total of 32 minutes and grabbed 12 rebounds.
Conference play continues at home for Cloud County on Saturday, November 19th when the number-four nationally-ranked Hutchinson Blue Dragons come to town for a 2 PM contest inside Arley Bryant Gymnasium. A perfect 7-0 this season, Hutchinson won their conference opener at home on Wednesday evening by downing Independence 61-53.