by Alan Hoskins, KCKCC
Kansas City Kansas Community College’s defending national basketball champions got their 10th win in 11 starts Wednesday but it took a lot longer than might be expected.
In fact, the Lady Blue Devils were deadlocked 32-32 early in the second half before pulling away for a 75-50 win over Washburn University’s junior varsity.
The last home game before the holiday break, the Blue Devils will finish December with four straight road games starting with the Southeast Classic in Beatrice, Nebraska. KCKCC will play Central Nebraska Friday at 2 p.m. and will play host to Southeast Saturday at 4 p.m.
The Blue Devils had too much balance for Washburn in the second half. Coach Joe McKinstry used 10 players and all but one scored and all 10 had rebounds, eight had at least one assist and seven had one or more steals.
Equally impressive, seven Blue Devils had 3-point goals and 19 of KCKCC’s 26 field goals were assisted led by Aliyah Myers’ half-dozen.
Brodi Byrd and Tiaira Earnest each had 13 points and Alieyya Jones 12 to lead the scoring.
Byrd had three 3-pointers including two to start the game and four assists; Earnest added five rebounds and Jones four steals. Destiny Zamudio chipped in with nine points, Anija Frazier eight points and Mercer Roberts six points and six rebounds. It was Frazier’s first game after coming off concussion protocol.
Kamryn Estell led KCKCC to a 46-41 rebounding edge with eight, seven of which came in the second half. Myers added seven rebounds to her six assists.
The Blue Devils broke the 32-32 deadlock with eight straight points. Zamudio ignited it with a 3-point play, Byrd made a pair of free throws and Jones a layup and free throw.
Closest the Ichabods could get was 44-38 but back-to-back 3-pointers by Estell and Jones helped open a 53-32 three-quarter lead and the Blue Devils put the game out of reach with a 22-8 fourth quarter.
“We’re still not shooting the ball well but I liked our aggressiveness in going to the basket in the second half,” KCKCC coach Joe McKinstry said. “We did a much better job of attacking the basket. We also made 13-of-15 free throws the second half and had only six turnovers after 14 the first half.”
KCKCC led by as many as 13 points in the first half only to have the Ichabods close back to 30-28 at the half and tie it twice to start the third quarter.
“The first half was awful although we did show some glimpses we would get going,” McKinstry said. “For some reason, we just couldn’t sustain it. We know our offense is going to come and go so we’re going to need our defense to help us win games until the offense figures things out.”
Defensively, the Blue Devils had 15 steals in forcing 27 Washburn turnovers. The Ichabods were limited to 29 percent shooting and outrebounded 28-19 in the second half after winning the first half 22-18.
“The bottom line, this is a good team,” McKinstry said. “We’re going to have close games, make mistakes. Obviously, we don’t shoot the ball that well (.393) so we’re going to have to grind them out.”