Setting a school 3-pointer record along the way, the SPU women’s basketball team (12-5, 5-1) foiled the Dixie State Rebels’ attempted coup Saturday afternoon and went on to win 106-62 at Royal Brougham.
It was a painful first meeting for the team hailing from Utah.
Throwing their depth, superior experience, and the home crowd at a Dixie State team that could boast only one upperclassman — senior forward Maggie Apt — and a three-player bench, the Falcons sank trey after trey in the flow of the offense.
"It was fun to see our guards light it up outside," said sophomore Kelsey Hill.
As a team, the Falcons shot 70.8 percent from 3-point territory on 17-24 shots, demolishing the previous school record of 12.
In comparison, the National Basketball Association single-game record for the most 3-pointers by one team is 21.
The scrappy Rebels played a hard-nosed zone defense in the first half, preventing much inside play from Hill and senior Rachel Strand and forcing the guards to find their outside range.
"You have to hit outside shots for the middle to get open," said senior Jessie Menkens.
Dixie State "stayed with us [in the first half] because they still had legs," Strand said. "Initially they played to their potential."
The Rebels matched SPU basket for basket, remaining within one or two points, until the 5:28 mark of the first half.
Then a trey by Menkens spurred the Falcons ahead by seven. It marked the beginning of a hot streak that saw SPU hit three more 3-pointers before halftime.
By the time the Falcons returned to the court, up 48-28, the toll of playing Western Washington University the night before was weighing on the Rebels.
Dixie State head coach Angela Kristensen stalked the sidelines, berating her players and throwing her arms in the air at every careless pass and risky shot. She could only watch helplessly as her team’s play on both sides of the ball became more sluggish.
Meanwhile, SPU dropped in nine more shots from beyond the arc, courtesy of five different players.
The scoring was evenly distributed, with seven players scoring in double figures and every member of the team scoring at least three points.
Senior Autumn Fielding was high scorer with 17. Junior Jackie Hollands was close behind with 15.
Freshman Daesha Henderson was a spark for the Falcons, contributing two of the 17 treys and using her quickness and court awareness to boost her team.
With 7:24 left in the first half, Fielding stole the ball on the Dixie State end and flicked it ahead to Henderson. The pass was too long, and Henderson had to make an acrobatic leap out of bounds to grab it and toss it to a trailing Hill.
The pass was perfectly placed, and Hill caught it and put in a layup over the Rebel defense.
Strand describes Henderson in four words: "She’s so dang quick."
"She has so much energy. It’s refreshing," Strand said, adding that Henderson puts forth the effort to learn — from the coaches and the more experienced players. "I see that want in her," Strand said. When she doesn’t understand something, "she’s not afraid of raising her hand and asking."
As a freshman, one of Henderson’s jobs is to push her teammates — particularly the players above her in the rotation — to improve. Strand said that the whole team has been inspired by each other to do better.
No statistic reveals the blossoming team chemistry better than the assist total: 31 assists on 37 field goals.
This distribution has allowed the offense to be "well-rounded," Hill said.
"We’re really working on assists," she said. Games like the Dixie State contest, when the whole team shoots well, allow the whole team to play within the flow of the game.
"It was fun," Hill said of Saturday’s game. "Everything [was] clicking. We were working together and playing well."
The non-conference blowout was a confidence booster for a Falcons team that dropped a close contest to Western Washington University (WWU) on Wednesday night.
It was SPU’s first conference loss of the season.
"We didn’t make the most of our opportunities," coach Julie van Beek said of the 60-58 loss. "[We were] not putting the nail in the coffin."
Missed opportunities — like blowing a layup or failing to convert in transition — added up for the Falcons and clipped their wings in the end.
Strand described the lost chances as "little games within the game."
"If we had taken care of one of the mini games, we would have won," she said.
In Hill’s words: "We had opportunities to win and didn’t capitalize on them."
Halftime saw the teams nearly knotted with the score 33-32 in Western’s favor. Neither the Falcons nor the Vikings (14-5, 6-2) were able to garner more than a four-point lead for the rest of the game.
"We traded baskets," Strand said. "It was basically zero to zero the whole time."
With 1:18 left, Hollands hit a jumper that tied the game at 58.
Then WWU sophomore guard India Soo hauled down a defensive rebound and laid it up on the other end — leaving SPU with five seconds to make a play.
"We had chances to go up," van Beek explained. But players would "miss a key layup, or we’d realize we [hadn’t] scored two times in a row."
As for Western: "They’re a very good team," van Beek said. "They had their back against the wall," having lost at Western Oregon University in their previous game.
SPU concludes their month-long homestand (seven of nine games at Royal Brougham) against Northwest Nazarene on Thursday — part of Homecoming weekend — and against Seattle University on Saturday.
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Title: Shooting record shattered | Author: August Williams | Section: Sports | Published Date: 2007-01-31 | Internal ID: 5389