Winning a season opening game is always good. Beating a ranked team is even better as Kansas City Community College's women proved Wednesday.
Ranked No. 9 in the first NJCAA DII basketball poll of the season, the Lady Blue Devils wiped out a 4-point deficit in the final 2½ minutes for a 71-67 win over No. 15 ranked North Central Missouri in Trenton.
A 3-pointer from deep in the corner by Wichita sophomore Jada Mayberry, the biggest goal of her young career, proved to be the difference. The trey broke a 66-66 tie with 1:07 remaining and freshman Faith Putz clinched the win with two free throws with 10 seconds to go.
The Blue Devils, who led 57-50 entering the final quarter, trailed 66-62 before Park Hill freshman DeQuaria Guillory tied it with a pair of close range field goals, the last with 1:17 left.
"Extremely proud of this group to come away with a win against a ranked opponent on the road in their first game," said KCKCC Coach Joe McKinstry. "North Central is a very good team, one that is going to win a lot of games this spring."
McKinstry went deep into his bench in the opener, getting scoring from 10 players. Guillory led a very balanced attack with 11 points while Mayberry and Platte County sophomore Hannah Valentine added 9 each, freshman Ikia Elam 8, sophomore Mercer Roberts and freshman Trinity McDow 7
each and De'Jaria Guillory 6.
"We have plenty that we can improve upon but it's great to see the balanced scoring as well as forcing NCMC into 25 turnovers," said McKinstry. "This group has the potential to hurt their opponents in a lot of ways."
Statistically, the two teams were about as even as the final score. The Pirates had a slight .429-.418 edge in field goal accuracy; KCKCC won the rebound battle 31-30. Neither team shot free throws well, the Blue Devils 9-of-19; the Pirates 12-of-24.
The Lady Blue Devils stay on the road Saturday, playing Central College in Columbus, Neb., at 1 p.m. with a men's game to follow at 3 p.m. before opening at home against Park University JV Jan. 28.