Lady Blues move to 5-0 with win against Lady Crusaders

Corkey Stiger was one of five Lady Blues to make the women’s basketball Washburn Review All-Decade Team.

Nathan Miller

After topping No. 12 Commerce 79-76 Nov. 23, the No. 6 Lady Blues deserved a break. But the Heart of America Athletic Conference Evangel Lady Crusaders did not let them have one last Monday, though the Lady Blues slipped by 74-60.

“It was a tough win against Commerce, so some of us were a little fatigued,” said Janice Bright, junior guard. “But once we got going, our offense fell into place.”

Bright scored 17 points in Monday’s victory, giving the Lady Blues a 5-0 start to the season. At times it didn’t seem like the victory was going to come easy, especially when the bench for the Lady Blues produced nine second-half points.

“We needed a night like tonight,” said Ron McHenry, head coach. “Evangel played hard, they played right and did some things that we haven’t seen before. The only disappointing thing about tonight was when the second group was in they couldn’t maintain the lead.”

The Lady Blues starters watched their lead dwindle dramatically twice in the second half from the bench. After garnering an 18-point lead with 14:24 left in the game, the starters found themselves back on the floor at the 11:07 mark only up by eight. Then after building a 17-point lead at the 8:30 mark, the starters were sent in to answer a momentum-changing 3-point shot by Lady Crusader Caitlin Russel that pulled her team within 13 with 4:35 left to play.

“You just got to focus out there,” said Corkey Stiger, senior guard. “When it gets like that you just have to take care of the ball and try to get it to players that you know can really handle the pressure. [Jessica Mainz] does a great job at that and we like to get her the ball, especially at the one.”

Junior point guard Mainz had a career-high eight assists, running an offense that allowed Stiger to go 9-for-15 shooting and 5 of 7 from beyond the arc for 23 points. The team won’t return to Lee Arena until Jan. 5 to host the Central Missouri Jennies.

“This win means a lot,” said Stiger. “I just felt like we needed to come out and play hard and take advantage of this home game because we are going to be on the road for a while. Playing in front of our home crowd means a lot to me.”

The Lady Blues will play the first of five straight road games tomorrow night as they take on the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The Tritons have struggled so far this season with an 0-4 record, but with a home opener and two former Washburn faces on the staff, the Tritons look to be competitive. Former McHenry assistant coach Lisa Curliss-Taylor became the Tritons’ head coach this year and former player and graduate assistant Lora Westling is her assistant.

“They’re going to come out and play aggressive,” said Stiger. “We just have to play hard and stick together. Playing against [Westling] is a little weird but it’s going to be fun. We’re just going to have a good time and play hard, just like we would against a player that you know on a different team.”

The Lady Blues will conclude the week with a trip to No. 6 Drury.