ST. LOUIS — For 20 minutes of game time, it looked like the Lady Raiders were going to be locked in a close game for four quarters Wednesday against Division II No. 19 St. Louis Community College.
They dismissed that notion in the second half.
Despite missing freshman J'Kayla Fowler, who is out for about a week with an injury to both ankles, Three Rivers defeated St. Louis 110-81 to win its 14th straight win and improve to 10-0 away from home. The Lady Raiders ended the Archers' three-game winning streak and handed them their first home loss of the season. Three Rivers broke 100 points for the first time since Dec. 1 and tallied their highest point total of the season.
"We just absolutely controlled both sides of the ball tonight," Three Rivers coach Jeff Walk said. "First quarter, it was tied 24-all, and you could just see that we just kept pulling away. And then that fourth quarter, they'd run out of gas and we hit our stride."
The Lady Raiders outscored the Archers 34-21 in the final frame.
Three Rivers was in a dogfight with St. Louis throughout the first half as both sides traded leads and ties, but Kim shaw swung the momentum to end the half.
The Lady Raiders (21-3) led by three points after Kyleigh Vaught scored a layup for the Archers (16-6) in the final seconds of the first half, but Katelyn South heaved a pass to Shaw, who threw up a 35-footer that banked in for a buzzer-beating 3. The shot gave the Lady Raiders a six-point lead heading into the intermission.
"That's a big momentum shift going into the half because we were up three and she hits that, puts us up six, then we came out in that third quarter and outscored them by 10 in the whole quarter," Walk said. "That's a big motivational and emotional boost for the kids."
When play resumed, the Lady Raiders found another gear and took over on both sides of the ball. The defense smothered the Archers with three blocked shots and several steals as Three Rivers outscored the hosts 27-17 in the third quarter and went on a 14-0 run to seize control of the game.
South poured in shots at a torrid rate throughout the second half on her way to 27 points in 24 minutes on a 10 of 14 shooting clip. Her 27 points tied a season high. Hailee Erickson added 19 points, five steals and five assists in 39 minutes.
The defense, though, stepped up in a big way throughout the deciding run in the third. Shaw knocked down a pair of free throws, the Lady Raiders swatted a shot and went on a break the other way. South dished to Casey Douglas, who scored a layup off the glass to give Three Rivers its first double-figure lead. Hannah Thurmon led the defensive charge with five blocks, one shy of a season high.
"We were making sure we wanted to have somebody on the basketball, and everybody had to move with the ball from side to side, you know, be there when your assignment catches the ball, and we did a really good job in the second half of that," Walk said.
On the next possession, Three Rivers slowed down the fast-paced Archer offense and forced a shot-clock violation. Douglas tallied another three when she caught an inbounds pass and put up a quick jumper and drew a foul for a 3-point play. She missed the free throw, but the defense came up with a steal. An'Nyah Pettus caught a pass in transition from South and laid it home for two more.
Pettus earned a trip to the free-throw line on the ensuing possession after a block on the other end got the ball back for Three Rivers. After she split the pair, South drained a shot off the glass. Erickson capped the run with a 3-pointer, giving the Lady Raiders their first 20-point lead of the game and all but sealing the win.
The Lady Raiders shot 53 percent from the floor and 48 percent from deep as they caught fire. Deanay Watson boosted the Raiders with 21 points and seven rebounds on a 9-for-13 shooting night in 21 minutes.
Next, Three Rivers will try for its 15th win in a row when it hosts Jefferson in a Region XVI matchup. The tip is scheduled for 2 p.m.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic