Blues weather early storm, clean up with 17-point win

Hope floats Hope Gregory tries to float a pass inside Saturday night.

Nathan Miller

Sometimes you just have to wait for the storm to pass. On Saturday, the No. 19 Lady Blues had to wait out the 3-point aerial assault from the Pittsburg State Gorillas before going on to win big 72-59.

The first half was a matter of letting senior guard Corkey Stiger warm up and waiting for the Gorillas’ downpour of 3-pointers to cease. Stiger missed her first two shots from the field but contributed heavily to an 11-2 run halfway through the first half that gave the Lady Blues a 37-28 advantage. Freshman guard Hope Gregory hit a 3-pointer at the 9:17 mark that started the run and Stiger finished it with seven points of her own.

“My team looks for me to do big things out there,” said Stiger. “We’re just going to try to get shooters open and do whatever will pump up our team. If it’s coming to me then I’m going to be there for them and try to knock down the shot.”

Stiger finished the first half 4 of 8 from the field with 11 points. The Gorillas went 5 of 9 from beyond the arc in the first half.

“Corkey has been under the weather and didn’t practice yesterday so she was a little off her step,” said McHenry. “We kind of just backed off a little bit and let them run their stuff and they hit some tough shots. They’re a very good offensive team.”

The Lady Blues let the floodgates open in the second half, starting with a 17-2 run. The Gorillas went 2 of 8 from the field and committed four turnovers in the first 6:30 of the half.

“We stopped the ball a lot,” said Stiger. “We got them to slow up on shooting threes and slammed it on them in the post. We didn’t think they could do as well in the post and we took advantage of it.”

The Gorillas would continue their 3-point aerial assault but would only hit 4 of 12 from beyond the arc in the second half. It wouldn’t be enough to make up the scoring drought as the Lady Blues held on 71-54.

“The second half we had three or four really good sets and just never looked back,” said McHenry. “Great execution there to open the half.”

The Lady Blues completed the sweep for the week, making important regional strides in Wednesday’s victory against Missouri Southern 72-59. The victory avenged a previous loss to Missouri Southern 61-69 and gave the Lady Blues an edge in the South Central Regional standings as the Lady Blues are ranked No. 3 behind West Texas A&M and Missouri Southern.

“That was a big win,” said Stiger. “We were ready and pumped for that one. We felt like they came in and took a little from us, beating us on our home court. We wanted to come out with a big win and play our game. When they played us at home we didn’t play our game.”

The Lady Blues hope to avenge another loss this Tuesday as they host the Southwest Baptist Bearcats. The Lady Blues fell to the Bearcats 66-61 in a contest in Bolivar, Mo. But Tuesday’s contest has a lot more than pride on the line as the Bearcats and Lady Blues are in a three-way tie for the MIAA conference lead with Emporia State.

“Baptist runs a little different type of defense,” said McHenry. “They switch on screens, double the post, double the wing and press. They have a defensive scheme that tries to get you off-balance. Hopefully we can handle the press better at home. At their place we struggled with it at times.”

The Lady Blues had a tough time stopping Bearcat senior guard Erica Souza last time out. Souza had 21 points against the Lady Blues. Souza is third in the MIAA with a scoring average of 19.5 points per game.

“We just have to play harder,” said Stiger. “It’s always about getting stops and playing defense. Defense wins every time.”