After five games of a seven-game road trip to start the season, Coach Doug Porter and the Olivet Nazarene women's basketball team are 4-1, thanks to a seemingly easy 108-53 victory over fellow NAIA member Ashford University on Saturday. The Tigers led by 31 points at the break and cruised from there, reaching at least 100 points for the fourth time in those five games.
There was a very interested group of people in attendance, as well, as blog favorite coach Evan Massey brought his Galesburg (Ill.) High School girls' team to check out the proceedings. Surely, he and the players enjoyed what they saw.
Simone Coburn led the way, as usual, with 19 of her 24 points in the first half, and Danielle Tolbert and Malory Adam each added 13. ONU finished 35 of 94 from the field, including 14-51 from beyond the 3-point line, and coerced the Saints into 47 turnovers. That included 35 in the first half alone, when the Tigers totaled 27 of their 30 steals. Even better, it appears the outside shooting started coming around a bit in the second half: ONU was 10-for-28 in the final 28 minutes, a very solid 35.7 percent.
Ashford did take the early lead, at 3-0 when Jordan Davis made a 3 about 20 seconds after the opening jump, but consecutive layups by Coburn gave the Tigers the lead for good. The margin still was only nine at 32-23 before a 13-0 run put it out of reach. Denita Phelps started it with a pair of free throws and Liz Bart and Tolbert made 3s, as well, and in the span of about 2 minutes, the score was 45-23. The Saints never got any closer and the final score represented the largest separation; in other words, ONU steadily pulled away in the second half.
Taylor Haymes, a new name for me, led the defense with six steals and added four assists. Lisa Beyer's 17 minutes of playing time was the most of anyone as Coach Porter got 15 members of his team at least 10 minutes of run. Holly Schacht only played a single minute, so I hope she wasn't injured. She had been a vital part of the rotation.
Kayla Crist had 13 points for Ashford (0-5).
The Tigers get a bit of break now after five games in eight days, traveling to Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin on Thursday. The Crusaders are 3-0, with all three victories by at least 11 points. One of those was against Clarke Univeristy, which lost that game 67-50. ONU beat Clarke 110-84, if you're looking for a comparison.
Game time for the trip to Cardinal Stritch is 8 p.m. EST, and the best of luck to everyone at ONU.
Elsewhere on Saturday, the Glenville State women's team completed a perfect trip to the CIAA/WVIAC Challenge at Elizabeth City State University, holding off Shaw 88-78 on Saturday. The two NCAA Division II conferences each sent four teams to the event, with the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference splitting the eight games.
In this one, the Pioneers (2-0) not only forced 34 turnovers, but they held the Bears (1-1) to 21.4 percent shooting in the second half. An amazing feat for any team, and particularly one which runs The System. Danielle Woodmore had 17 points, Autumn Davis added 14 and Tenisha Wilson scored 12 for Glenville, which finished 30-of-90 from the field and 11-for-43 on 3-pointers. Woodmore and Davis had four steals apiece out of 19 for their team.
The game was tight throughout, and the 13th and final tie came at 57 with 12:07 left in the game on a 3 from Glenville's Kim Stephens. Shaw turned it over on the other end and Kenyell Goodson drained another one from behind the line, and suddenly, the Pioneers were ahead by three. When Wilson made a layup a few minutes later, the run was 15-2 and coach Bunky Harkleroad's team led 70-59.
The Bears scored the next 10 points to get within one before a quick eight-point spurt for the Pioneers gave them control for good. Wilson got inside for two of the baskets and Tiffani Huffman and Woodmore added one each of their own to make it 78-69. Shaw never got closer than six points the rest of the way.
Kyria Buford had 28 points for Shaw.
Glenville stays on the road Tuesday with a trip to Ohio Valley, one of eight consecutive games away from home to start the season and the first WVIAC game for both teams. The Fighting Scots are 1-0, with a 76-66 victory over Central State on Saturday.
Game time in Vienna, W.Va., is 5:30 p.m. EST, and you know I will be keeping up with Coach Harkleroad and his team.