Unchallenged in most of their 12 straight wins to start the season, Kansas City Kansas Community College's No. 8 ranked and unbeaten women passed their biggest test to date Friday with a come-from-behind 79-74 win over No. 20 North Arkansas.
Trailing by as many as 13 points early in the second half and nine in the final quarter, the Lady Blue Devils won it with 7-of-9 shooting the fourth quarter.
"It wasn't one of our better performances, especially the first three quarters," said KCKCC Coach Joe McKinstry. "But for us to grind it out and put together a fourth quarter like that and come out on top is very gratifying heading into the holiday break. Considering how poorly we shot in the first half (28.6 percent), our second half shooting was fantastic (57.7 percent) and a good indication of the level of mental toughness of this group."
McKinstry was also delighted by the ball-handling of the Blue Devils. "For all the things we did poorly, to have only seven turnovers was a huge key to winning. If we would have had our normal amount of turnovers, we would not have been in position to come from behind."
North Ark led for nearly 33 minutes in a game that had three ties and four lead changes. KCKCC finally ahead to stay on a three-point goal by Janay Jacobs and a layup by Arrica Daye with four minutes to go and pulled away despite sub-par free throwing. While 7-of-9 from the field in the last quarter, the Blue Devils missed a half-dozen free throws in the final three minutes and were just 12-of-26 in the second half (.462).
Although just 5-of-20 shooting from the field, Cheyenne North led five Blue Devils in double figure scoring with 19 points and just missed a triple double with a career high 15 rebounds and eight assists. Erin Anderson added 14 points, Daye 12 and Valencia Scott and Brooklyn Wagler 10 each. Anderson, Wagler and Brie Tauai also had five rebounds each and Jacobs a career high four assists.
North Arkansas was led by 6-2 freshman Jolene Shipps, who scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. "I was very pleased we were able to out-rebound a much bigger team (44-40) along with our balanced scoring," added McKinstry.
The Lady Blue Devils are now idle until Monday, Jan. 4, when they host Avila JV, and Wednesday, Jan. 6, when they entertain North Central.
KCKCC's Cheyenne North (20) goes up for two of her 19 points in the Blue Devils come-from-behind 79-74 win over North Central. North also had 15 rebounds and 8 assists for a near triple double. (KCKCC Photo by Alan Hoskins)