The Lady Raiders have won nine straight games, something they haven’t done since they won 16 in a row during the 2016-17 season. They’ll have a chance to make it 10 in a row Tuesday when they host Arkansas Baptist.
Three Rivers played Arkansas Baptist on the road this year, winning by 45 points back in November.
The Buffaloes have a 4-15 record and have lost three of their last four games, but the Lady Raiders aren’t taking them lightly coming into Tuesday.
If there’s one thing Three Rivers coach Jeff Walk saw in Saturday’s game against Crowder that could give Three Rivers fits, it’s the ability to effectively run its half-court sets against certain defenses.
“If they watched the game film from Saturday and a couple of other games since the break, they’ve probably noticed our offense against a 2-3 zone is not very good,” Walk said. “So, I think we’ll see a lot more of that (Tuesday) night. We worked on some stuff (Monday) in practice, and hopefully it’ll carry over to the game.”
A 2-3 zone from Crowder helped the Lady Roughriders get back into Saturday’s game in the second half before the Lady Raiders regrouped. Crowder had cut a 17-point deficit to six points before Three Rivers pulled away for a 25-point win.
Three Rivers was able to pull away thanks in part to its ability to force turnovers and get easy baskets in transition, something that has been one of its calling cards this season. Saturday, the Lady Raiders forced Crowder to turn the ball over 29 times and scored 30 points off those turnovers. Fifteen of the 29 turnovers were steals that kept the ball alive and allowed Three Rivers to get quick points in transition and prevent the visitors from setting up their zone.
Three Rivers will look to do more of that Tuesday when the Buffaloes come to town.
“If you can get easy and early offense when you get stagnant on offense on a half-court set, it just makes it a lot easier to get points put on the board, so that’s why we have to get out and run and get those easy opportunities because if we can shoot layups, we don’t have to worry about offense,” Walk said. “And that’s some of our problem. We can get out and run, but when teams take that away from us and slow us down, we’ve got to get better at that.”
Three Rivers wants to keep pushing the tempo and using its athleticism to win games as it has done all season long. So far, that philosophy has worked, and Walk thinks once teams start adjusting to that speed and sending extra defenders back to slow down the offense, more options will be available.
“If we can get out and get those long passes down the court for easy layups, then that means their post player has to run, or they’ll start sending two guards back,” Walk said. “That just opens up a lot more opportunities. I think what you’re also going to see is when they start sending two guards back, what you’re also going to see is our 3-pointers in transition are going to start becoming a little bit more available.”
The good news for the Lady Raiders is the transition game worked wonders in their last matchup with Arkansas Baptist. Three Rivers scored 31 points off of 22 forced turnovers and got out to a fast start, leading 49-11 at the half.
“The one thing that we have to make sure we take care of is — we beat them pretty handily down there — that we don’t come in overconfident, and we’ve just got to go play the game and not try to think that the game is already won before it starts,” Walk said.
Nate Fields - Daily American Republic