Monday, December 13, 2010

Great effort by newly ranked ONU

The latest NAIA coaches' Top 25 for Division I women came out Monday, and what do you know? The Olivet Nazarene Tigers, coached by System guru Doug Porter, entered it at No. 25, their first ranking of the season. They found a perfect way to celebrate later in the day, too, even if might not have been their prettiest effort of the season.

ONU took on the Illinois Wesleyan Titans, who are ranked 13th in the latest NCAA Division III women's poll at The Tigers controlled the majority of the game, and in fact, the only tie came when Illinois Wesleyan's Olivia Lett tipped in a miss with 37 seconds left to make it 95-95 and force overtime.

In the extra period, ONU's Taylor Haymes and Jaimie Buckman made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions to give their team the lead for good, and the Tigers did just enough at the free throw line down the stretch to win 110-106. Danielle Tolbert had 23 points, five assists and four steals to lead ONU (9-3), and Simone Coburn added 20 points and five rebounds, all offensive.

Yes, many others chipped in, too: Danielle Pipal got 12 points, five assists, seven steals and four rebounds, and Tolbert, Holly Schacht and Denita Phelps each finished with four steals. The Tigers forced an incredible 52 turnovers (34 steals!) to overcome some nice shooting by the Titans; they made 63 percent in the second half and 50 percent for the game, but the turnovers led to a shot advantage of 28 for ONU. That was the difference.

Before I forget, here are your Formula goals:

- Attempted 107 shots
- Attempted 39 3-pointers (this was down a bit)
- Rebounded 30 percent of the misses on offense
- Forced 52 turnovers, as previously discussed
- Attempted 28 more shots than Illinois Wesleyan, also as previously discussed

Give the Titans credit, however. They trailed by 13 at halftime before scoring the first 11 points of the second half to get back in the game, then rallied from six down in the final 2:19 of regulation to tie it up. Even when ONU jumped to the early edge in OT, Illinois Wesleyan wasn't done, cutting was eventually was a seven-point deficit down to one with 35 seconds remaining.

Schacht then made 1-of-2 at the line, and Coburn rebounded the miss before adding a pair of free throws herself for the final margin.

I don't think pointing out how wonderfully inclusive The System is ever will get old. ONU had 72 points from the reserves, leaving 38 for the starts, but of course, 16 players got in the game. And 14 of those played at least 12 minutes, with Schacht and Buckman getting most at 17.

The Titans went 10-deep, but four of their starters played at least 30 minutes. Those four players -- Nikki Preston, Olivia Lett, Hope Schulte and Stacey Arlis -- combined for 72 points, 40 rebounds, 18 assists and 29 turnovers. Arlis had 26 points to lead the way.

Now, after a 4-1 homestand, Coach Porter and his team go back on the road, with a trip Wednesday to Wisconsin-Parkside before a longer excursion to Hawaii for the Hoop N Surf Classic. Play starts there Saturday with a matchup against the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology and concludes Monday against Morningside College.

Best of luck to the Tigers, and you can check back here for updates.

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