Cloud County Women's Basketball Takes Down #4 Hutchinson, 75-65

Alize Ruiz Played a Team-High 36 Minutes Saturday, Scoring 20 Points and Grabbing 8 Rebounds to Help Cloud County Upset #4 Hutchinson
Alize Ruiz Played a Team-High 36 Minutes Saturday, Scoring 20 Points and Grabbing 8 Rebounds to Help Cloud County Upset #4 Hutchinson

Opening the game with an 8-2 run and building a double-digit lead at the end of the first quarter, the Cloud County Community College women's basketball team would never trail and hand previously undefeated and number-four nationally-ranked Hutchinson Community College their first loss with a 75-65 home win inside Arley Bryant Gymnasium on Saturday, November 19th.

Earning their first win over the Blue Dragons since November 15th of 2017, the T-Birds close out the opening week of Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference play a perfect 2-0 to improve to 6-1 overall and be just one of three teams in the league to start conference play 2-0. Hutchinson falls to 7-1 overall and 1-1 in the KJCCC after being held 10 points under their season average.

The early run that CCCC would put together would see a focus on making their way into the paint as a layup from Te Araroa Sopoaga along with a Maimouna Sissoko jumper and pair of Alize Ruiz layups would put the T-Birds up 8-2 just 2:54 into the game. Two free throws from Hutchinson would be followed by a Blue Dragon triple mid-way through the opening period that would bring HCC within one at 8-7, but Cloud County would have a response by scoring each of the next nine points to take their first double-digit lead at 17-7 with 2:21 left in the first. After ending their offensive drought with a made free throw at the 2:07 mark, Hutchinson would see the T-Birds add four more points in the final two minutes that would give CCCC a 21-8 lead heading into the second.

Ending a nearly six-minute drought from the field, Hutchinson would hit a three to pull within 10 to open the second quarter before seeing CCCC have a response with a Sopoaga triple that would push things back to a 13-point T-Bird lead. Cloud County would manage to maintain their lead in double-digits as things would bounce back and forth between 10 and 14 points for each of the next three minutes of game time as the T-Birds would have a response for each Blue Dragon point. Five quick points from Hutchinson would allow HCC to get the deficit back under 10 for the first time since late in the first quarter before seeing Cloud County score six of the next eight points as CCCC would keep momentum from changing hands. Using an 8-3 run to close within eight at 39-31, Hutchinson would be poised to keep things under double-digits heading to the half before two Kayla Horton free throws with 31 seconds left in the half would put things back at a 10-point margin to close out the second quarter.

Trading each of the first four buckets of the second half to keep things at a 10-point margin, Cloud County would break the back-and-forth with layups from Sissoko and Sopoaga with the latter coming on a three-point play to put the T-Birds back up 13 with just under seven minutes left in the third. CCCC would go on to push their lead to 15 on a made three from Ruiz later on in the third before seeing a 6-0 run by Hutchinson once again pull the Blue Dragons within single-digits. Going back to the post, Cloud County would get a made layup from Sissoko to once again go back up double-digits as the T-Birds would score two of the final three buckets in the third quarter to lead by a score of 61-50 heading to the fourth.

Withstanding a 6-2 spurt from HCC to open the final 10 minutes of play, Cloud County would Sissoko score five of the next six points with the lone other point coming from CCCC's Josephine Igherighe as the T-Birds would go back up by 13 with just over five minutes left in the contest. Matching their largest lead of the game following two free throws from Ruiz, CCCC would see Hutchinson close within single-digits just once down the final four minutes of the game while managing to never allow a real threat at a comeback to be mounted by the Blue Dragons to close out a 10-point win.

Shooting 45.8 percent (27-of-59) from the field to outdo the 37.7 percent (23-of-61) outing from Hutchinson, the T-Birds would match the Blue Dragons with four made three's each while hitting on 17-of-26 (65.4 percent) of their free throw attempts compared to a 15-of-26 (57.7 percent) tally from Hutch. With both teams relying on points in the paint, CCCC would hold a 40-36 advantage in the scoring column in the category and hold a 17-14 advantage in second-chance points after holding a 41-32 advantage in rebounds over the Blue Dragons.

Led by a game-high and career-best 22 points from Sissoko, the freshman would also add 10 rebounds, two steals, and one block to lead Cloud County in the contest. Nearly matching Sissoko would be Ruiz who would finish with 20 points and eight rebounds after playing a team-high 36 minutes in the contest while Sopoaga would score 15 points and dish out seven assists. Hutchinson would be led by a team-high 15 points from Monae Duffy who would also grab a team-best eight rebounds.

What's Next?
For the first time this season, Cloud County will play a conference road game with a short turnaround as CCCC will travel to Independence for a 5:30 PM contest on Tuesday, November 22nd. Independence earned an 85-49 home victory over Colby on Saturday afternoon to move to 5-3 overall and 1-1 in the KJCCC.