The Lady Raiders could've stopped scoring after the first quarter and still won. After leading 30-11 after the first quarter, Three Rivers allowed a combined 11 points throughout the remainder of the game Tuesday at the Bess Activity Center as it dismantled Arkansas State Mid-South 104- 28, its largest margin of victory since a 113-41 win over Missouri Baptist JV on Dec. 1, 2017. ASU Mid-South was shorthanded, dressing five players and playing with four after Nariah Matthews fouled out with just under 8 minutes left in the third quarter, but Three Rivers got everything it wanted at will and topped its 100-64 win over ASU Mid-South in the season opener. Six players scored in double figures for the Lady Raiders, led by sophomore Hailee Erickson's 21 on five 3-pointers and nine assists. Sophomore Kimberley Shaw finished a rebound and an assist shy of a triple double, tallying 14 points, nine assists and a game-high nine rebounds in a team-leading 34 minutes. "We had 42 makes on 28 assists, and that's pretty good sharing the ball," coach Jeff Walk said. "That's going to beat some good teams. … We're starting to figure it out. It's good to see that they're moving from practice to games and applying it. So, baby steps." The rebounding battle was as one-sided as it gets. Three Rivers was plus-37 on the glass (52 to 15), grabbing more offensive rebounds (19) than the visitors had total rebounds. Freshman Jordan Little knocked down a trey off a skip pass from Shaw 31 seconds into the game and the rout was on. Erickson followed up with a 3 in the corner on the ensuing possession courtesy of another pass from Shaw. Little knocked down the second of her four 3s on a fast break to give Three Rivers three made triples in two minutes and a 9-2 lead.
"If you move the ball plenty of times, it's going to be hard to keep up with, so we like to do that," Little said. The only offense ASU Mid-South generated typically came from Tatyana Burks on the baseline for mid-range jumpers. Burks finished with 9 points but shot 4-of-23 from the floor. Tori Foster knocked down a 3-pointer and Javia Wilson added a jumper to put the score at 10-7 after freshman Hannah Thurmon split a pair at the freethrow line, but that's the closest the visitors would get for the remainder of the game. A 20-4 run to finish the first quarter put the game well out of reach and had the Lady Raiders coasting to the finish line. After a one-sided second quarter saw the Lady Raiders leading 50-19 at the half, the hosts backed out of their normal fullcourt press and worked on half-court defense. "Whether we're pressing or not, we want to go hard, but in circumstances like these, we don't need to press, so we just have to go hard in our half-court defense as well. Our communication has helped us know where the pass is going and get to it first." The Lady Greyhounds didn't score a point through the first 6 minutes of the third quarter when Burks banked in a desperation 3 late in the shot clock. Three Rivers responded with another big run, this time at 12-2. With the Lady Greyhounds playing with four players, the fourth quarter became somewhat of a practice drill with finding open space on the floor for 3s and layups and forcing some turnovers. "We've been working the last two or three weeks on moving with the basketball (on defense), moving the ball from side to side, being there early (and) give them that perception that they're open but we're quick enough that we're getting those passes, and that's starting to happen," Walk said. In their first game in a week, the Lady Raiders were on the right end of a 37 to nothing advantage in points off turnovers. The Lady Raiders will play their second of four straight games at home at 8 p.m. Friday against Northeast Oklahoma A&M.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic