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North Central set out to end Elmhurst College’s two-game winning streak despite entering the game with back-to-back losses.
The tables looked to turn in favor of NCC when junior guard Bobbi Johns and sophomore guard Kimberly Wilson scored on back-to-back three-point baskets. After that point, NCC went on a 9-2 run.
“It is always great to get the lead because it’s not fun trailing behind the whole game,” said Johns. “So, once we made those back-to-back threes, it got our momentum going and we just kept that up for most of the game.”
The Cardinals responded on the defensive end by extending their full-court pressure.
The squad’s energy level and production were maintained throughout by using full-lineup rotations.
When the team’s perimeter play took control early, North Central’s junior forward Larynn Shumaker was given time to come alive later in the first half as she began converting on shots from multiple areas inside the paint.
At the other end, Elmhurst’s guard/forward Melanie Schwerdtmann collected four rebounds while forwardFiona McMahon converted on five of eight shots from the field, despite being in early foul trouble.
Even so, having to play catch-up did not help as the Cardinals entered the half leading 49-43.
NCC’s Wilson and Johns started out the second half in a similar fashion as the first period had.
Wilson got started with a deep three-pointer and Johns followed by converting on a mid-range jumper, but then Elmhurst went on a 12-4 run.
The Blue Jays worked to give NCC problems by tying the game on three separate occasions in the second half.
Though Blue Jays guard Nikky Moan would put Elmhurst up by two points with 6:51 on the clock, the Cards went on a 10-2 run after breaking the 81-point tie.
“In close games, momentum is very important because there may be minutes when your team is up and then minutes when your team is down by a few points,” Wilson said. “It is momentum like that that is needed to up the energy and intensity in your team, and instill a sense of urgency in the other team. Then, you pull away with the lead, just as we did.”
In the end, Elmhurst ran out of time to stop the offensive edge established by North Central.
After a series of trips to the free-throw line, North Central claimed a 111-92 victory.
North Central sealed the victory with seven scorers finishing in double-figures, something head coach Michelle Roof was extremely pleased to see.
“We typically don’t have the same player leading us in scoring night in and night out, especially in games that we win,” coach Roof said. “We usually have close to five people in double figures on those nights. To see a total team effort, see everybody shoot the ball well and everybody get rebounds on Saturday, was a big step for us.”
Leading the way for the Blue Jays was Schwerdtmann, who finished with a game-high 22 points while McMahon finished with 15 points and 15 rebounds.
The Cardinals get back to the hardwood tonight at home against CCIW rival Augustana College.
Tipoff between the Cardinals and Vikings is scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m.