Cougars get revenge on NIACC, advance to championship; #5 ICC 66, #2 NIACC 62

For the second day in a row, rebounding and defense were the staples for the #5 ICC women’s basketball team, leading to an “edge of your seat” 66-62 victory over #2 North Iowa Area CC on Friday afternoon in Ramsey Gym. The Cougars amassed an astounding 65-33 rebounding edge and held NIACC, who entered the contest averaging 104 points and 16 made three-pointers per game, to 31% shooting and just seven three-pointers in the contest to get the win.

The Trojans came out the aggressor, nailing two treys to take an early 8-4 lead, but that soon changed as Abby Coates snagged an offensive rebound on the next possession, leading to a Jasmine Levy basket (assist Aubrey Magro), which started an amazing 21-4 run over the next six minutes. ICC carved up the NIACC full-court press, as Madison Faulkner (who had 11 points during the run), Jasmine Levy, and Kathy Pinnock-Branford combined to score the next 17 ICC points, giving the Cougars a 21-12 advantage. Bailey Larsen hit a free throw and then nailed a trey (assist Sia Williams) to finish off the quarter and the Blue and Gold took a 25-12 lead after the first period.

History seemed to repeat itself from Thursday night, as the Cougars started the second quarter with five turnovers and went the first three and a half minutes without scoring. But their defense covered up the offensive warts, holding NIACC to just two points over that time, hardly making a dent in the Cougar lead. Free throws by Williams (2), Larsen (2), Pinnock-Branford (1) and Isreal Evans (1) helped keep the Cougar advantage in double digits, followed by Larsen and Maynard scores to put ICC up 37-24. However, NIACC scored on their last two possessions of the half, and the Cougars took a 37-29 advantage into recess.

NIACC converted their first two possessions of the third period to draw to within 37-34, but two Faulkner scores pushed the lead back to 43-35. Maynard shook loose for two scores (assist Larsen & Krystal Walker) and Levy added a basket (assist Maynard), giving ICC a 51-39 lead halfway through the quarter. The Trojans closed on a small run, closing their deficit to 51-45 heading into the fourth.

Maynard helped push ICC’s lead back up to 56-47, grabbing an offensive rebound for a put-back and hitting Coates for a score, and the Cougars maintained a 56-47 lead with six minutes to play. NIACC then went on a 9-1 run, trimming the Cougar lead to just 57-56 with 3:00 remaining.  Leading 61-58 with just over a minute to play, ICC ran an offensive set, getting a double screen for Larsen, who nailed a three-ball at the top of the key (screens by Coates & Faulkner, Pinnock-Branford assist), to put the hosts up 64-58. NIACC scored a free throw and three-pointer, to draw to within 64-62 with :19 seconds to play, but Larsen was fouled on the ensuing possession and swished both free throws for the final margin.

It should be noted that since the 2013-14 season, NIACC and ICC have met eleven times, and today’s victory gave the Cougars a 6-5 series advantage. ICC record is now 11-2 overall, while NIACC drops to 13-2. 

Team stats

Rebounding:  ICC 65, NIACC 33 (Coates leading post rebounder with 12, Maynard leading guard rebounder with 11)
Assists:  17 (which led to 19 team field goals — Maynard with 5 dimes)
Free Throws:  26-43
Bench scoring:  ICC 38, NIACC 32

Individual stats

Faulkner (18 pts, 6 reb), Larsen (15 pts), Maynard (11 reb, 10 pts), Coates (12 reb, 5 pts, 3 asts), Levy (7 pts, 7 reb), Williams (6 reb, 3 pts), Pinnock-Branford (5 pts), Magro (2 pts), Evans (1 pt), Walker (5 reb)