Tight defense lifts HCC women

November 03, 2011|By BOB PARASILITI |
  • HCC"s Alessandra Flores tries to control a loose ball while Northern Virginia's Paris Cantrell applies the pressure during the Hawks' season-opening victory.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

The Hagerstown Community College women’s basketball team played a game of mind over matter in their 2011-12 season opener on Wednesday.

When the Hawks did what they had in mind, nothing else mattered.

HCC’s objective was to come out and play strong defense and it set the tone for a 21-point halftime lead en route to a convincing 66-51 victory over Northern Virginia at the HCC athletic complex.

The biggest thing, though, may have been the Hawks believed in what they were doing.

“Coach (Marlys Palmer) told us before the game that no team has ever worked as hard as we did and that no one can beat us,” said HCC’s sophomore shooting guard Kishia Jackson. “We went out there believing that no one was going to beat us.”

Jackson hit three of her five 3s in the first seven minutes of the game to help the Hawks establish and early 14-7 lead as HCC established a stronghold in the first half with defense.

HCC’s defensive play didn’t always get turnovers, but it made it difficult for NOVA to start its offense, leading to three shot clock violations in the first 20 minutes.

“That’s what we wanted to do,” said Palmer, who started her 33rd and final season coaching the Hawks. “Early in the season, if the defense does well, it helps the offense. In the first five, six minutes, our man defense disrupted them.”

HCC’s defense continued to gum up NOVA’s works as the Hawks outscored NOVA 24-8 the rest of the first half to take the 38-17 halftime lead. The Hawks moved the ball around and found open shooters to just enhance the defensive play.”

“We’d like to have a team that can distribute the ball around,” Palmer said. “Once they got into the zone, Kishia started to hit her 3s to break it.”

The flow put Jackson in her element.

“The 3 is my favorite shot and that is what I practice the most,” Jackson said. “I was just thinking them in. Coach told me to go out and shoot, but not think about the misses.”

NOVA made a stand in the second half and fed HCC a bit of its own medicine.  NOVA opened with a 15-9 run to start the second half to get within 42-26.

But HCC got the tempo back to its liking, starting with Jackson’s fifth 3 and six points by Alessandra Flores to ignite a 15-6 run to take a 57-32 lead with 6:48 remaining to hold off the comeback.

Jackson led HCC with 17 points while Flores finished with 13 and Jasmine Reynolds added 10 with seven rebounds and three steals.  NOVA’s Lashonntae Hewitt led all scorers with 19 points.

“We have to be happy with the win, but we have to keep working,”  Palmer said. “We played hard, which I like to see, but we are unorganized a little. Each game is a test and now we see our weaknesses.”

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