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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Indiana Tech's DeAnn Kauffman, right, scrambles past Aquinas Saints' Andraya Johnson to get to the hoop during the first quarter of the game at Indiana Tech on Wednesday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Indiana Tech's Keanna Gary, left, prepares to shoot the ball past Aquinas Saints' Ally Frederickson during the first quarter of the game at Indiana Tech on Wednesday.

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Indiana Tech's DeAnn Kauffman, right, tries to get past Aquinas Saints' Andraya Johnson to get to the hoop during the first quarter of the game at Indiana Tech on Wednesday.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018 10:10 pm

Indiana Tech 64, Aquinas 52

Indiana Tech women win 13th straight

JUSTIN A. COHN | The Journal Gazette

Indiana Tech women’s basketball coach Jessie Biggs knows it’s a luxury to have a veteran roster. Of her 15 players, eight are seniors or juniors. This isn’t to say they coach themselves, or there aren’t plenty of games in which Biggs must give out a tongue-lashing or two.

But there is a level of trust Biggs enjoys that not all coaches do, like when she was ill a few weeks ago, and was able to send a practice plan from home and trust that they would execute it even if she wasn’t there to micromanage things.

Or, like Wednesday night, when Indiana Tech held a one-point halftime lead, recognized that the outcome of the evening was in its control, and then orchestrated a dominating third quarter in a 64-52 victory over Aquinas at the Schaefer Center.

“They’re pretty motivated. They have their goals and the things they want to achieve. I think having so many upperclassmen helps with that; they’re pretty locked in and understand that night in and night out, they have to show up,” Biggs said.

The Warriors (22-2, 13-1 in the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference), who are ranked eighth in the NAIA coaches poll, have won 13 straight games.

“They function on their own. They go out there and play," Biggs said. "It’s a huge luxury and it’s a credit to them that three or four years ago this is where they wanted to be right now and they’re getting to achieve it."

It’s easy to rave about the upperclassmen when they include Keanna Gary, a First Team All-American last season, and Haley Cook, who was on the Third Team. Gary totaled 27 points Wednesday – she made 11 of 21 shots – and had 21 rebounds. Cook had 20 points.

“Haley and I, we hold ourselves to really high standards having come from a different level,” said Gary, a Leo graduate who started her career at IPFW, an NCAA Division I school, while Cook began at Division II Kentucky Wesleyan. “On this team, we all do a really good job holding of ourselves accountable, so (Biggs) doesn’t have to hold us as accountable.”

Against Aquinas (14-9. 9-5), the third quarter opened with 2:41 of scoreless action before the game turned on consecutive Gary drives for a 32-27 lead. She was 4 for 4 with three rebounds as the Warriors went on an 8-4 run for a 36-31 lead.

“We started guarding a lot better,” Biggs said. “They only had eight points in that quarter. And we started going to the well. They couldn’t guard our post, so we kept going in to Gary and we were going to keep doing it until they stopped her.

"... The thing with her is she doesn’t ever take possessions off in a game and that’s what gets her those transition layups and those easy baskets. You’ve got to constantly be sprinting or working hard or she’s going to get two on you. I think her work ethic and the ability to play hard for 40 minutes is incredible."

By the time sophomore Rachel Bell stripped McKenzie Breimayer of the ball and cruised to a layup, the Warriors were in control at 49-35. In the quarter, the Warriors made 9 of 14 shots, held Aquinas to 2-of-13 shooting and scored 21 of 29 points.

Aquinas was paced by Momo Neal’s 22 points. Sophomore DeAnn Kauffman had seven points and five rebounds for the Warriors, who were reminded that, win streak or not, they have to work for everything.

“We do get lax sometimes and I feel like it shows in games,” Gary said. “Like you saw, in the third quarter, we kind of snapped back to reality. It’s not like it’s a given; we have to earn our wins.”

jcohn@jg.net