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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, March 08, 2018 1:00 am

Indiana Tech 76 Bryan 60

Practice makes perfect in Tech women's opener

Charlie Hildebrand | For The Journal Gazette

SIOUX CITY, Iowa – An early-morning game would hamper many teams, but the Indiana Tech women's basketball team had an answer for it.

“We actually changed our practice schedule,” said Indiana Tech's Keanna Gary of Wednesday's 8:30 a.m. start. “We used to practice in the afternoon, but we practiced at 8 a.m. for the past three or four days. I feel like that helped us get ready and get used to it.”

It helped kick off an early lead for Indiana Tech as the ninth-ranked Warriors opened the NAIA Division II Women's National Championship with a 76-60 win over No. 23 Bryan at the Tyson Events Center.

The biggest surprise of the game was that Haley Cook, the WHAC Player of the Year who tore her ACL in the WHAC Tournament, played 12 minutes for Indiana Tech, making a key 3-pointer to end a Bryan run in the third quarter. She also grabbed one rebound.

DeAnn Kauffman scored 20 points and Gary recorded a double-double with 11 points and 15 rebounds for Indiana Tech (30-4).

“She's a very good offensive player,” Indiana Tech coach Jessie Biggs said about Kauffman. “She really stays aggressive at all times. It gets her charges or it gets her baskets. That's what she does for our team and she does it very well.”

Rachel Bell finished with 16 points for the Warriors, champions of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference. Bella Lozano-Dobbs had 12 points and Kendall Knapke added 10.

Keneisha Love led Bryan (25-10) with 16 points and Tristan McClellan finished with 14.

Indiana Tech opened the game on an 11-0 run. After a Bryan field goal, the Warriors went on 7-0 run and ended the first quarter leading 23-7.

“I was very happy with the start,” Biggs said. “It's always great to get that lead and then you've got a little wiggle room for error.”

The Warriors increased their wiggle room to 20 points, at 44-24, by halftime.

“We go off our defense,” Biggs said. “We get stops then we can go in transition. It creates some really good opportunities for us on the other end.”

The Indiana Tech defense held Bryan to just 8 of 33 field goals (.242) in the first half while making 18 of 33 themselves (.545).

The Lions, champions of the Appalachian Athletic Conference tournament, opened the third quarter on a 14-2 run.

Karli Combs was fouled shooting a 3-pointer and made all three free throws to trim the lead to eight, at 46-38, with 4:45 left in the third quarter.

Kauffman hit a 3-pointer at the end of the third to put the Warriors ahead lead heading into the final stanza. Bryan cut it to nine points in the fourth quarter but never came any closer.

Last season, Indiana Tech lost in the first round to Tabor (Kansas).

“I call last year a practice round,” Biggs said. “I think our kids felt a lot more comfortable and had more confidence than nervousness.”

Indiana Tech plays Jamestown in the next round Friday morning.

“Another 8:30 a.m. game,” Biggs said. “Making it to the second round is one step closer to our goal. If we come in with the same mindset and mentality we had today, then we'll be in pretty good shape.”

“Especially after winning today,” Kauffman said. “That's going to give us more energy.”