By Bob Flynn
Register Sports Writer
MADISON COUNTY —
The Lady Colonels (6-5) remained perfect at 6-0 at home with a 68-43 blowout win over West Virginia State (3-4) Tuesday.
The Lady Colonels put the game away with a 23-3 run in the first 10 minutes of the second half that extended a 13-point halftime lead out to 33 points at 59-26.
After hitting only 2-of-11 three pointers in the first half, the Lady Colonels came out on fire in the second, hitting five of their first six threes.
Jalisa Bryant got the three-point blitz started with a three to open the half. Rachael Gray, who had both first half threes, hit one the next trip down court, then Brittany Coles got in on the act, hitting three straight during the decisive second-half run.
Four Lady Colonels scored in double figures in the game, led by Gray with 13. Coles had 12 points, six assists, four rebounds and one assist on the night, while Jade Barber had another double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds and Alex Jones added 10 points and nine rebounds.
EKU coach Chrissy Roberts said she was pleased with her team’s play after a nine-day lay off.
“I thought we played pretty solid tonight. Top to bottom it was a great team effort,” Roberts said. “We knew we were going to have to defend on-the-ball screens for 40 minutes tonight. We made some adjustments early in the first half and defended it well the remainder of the game.”
Gray got the offense started for EKU early, scoring 12 of the first 16 points as the Lady Colonels jumped out to an early 16-4 lead.
“I think we got off to a slow start because its always tough coming off finals week and we just had to kind of get our momentum going,” Gray said. “But we did what we needed to do, got transition baskets and were just buckling down on defense and getting stops. That always picks our offense when we do that.”
It was the inside play of Jones and Barber, who dominated both the offensive and defensive backboards while scoring pretty much at will, that allowed the Lady Colonels to re-establish their lead at the half after the Yellow Jackets made a run to cut the lead to two at 20-18.
“That is what we need and they are capable of doing that night-in-and night-out, just making that commitment and staying focused. When they do that, they are tough to handle,” Roberts said. “As a result, Jade had 13 boards and Alex had nine boards. I thought we did a really good job controlling the boards tonight.”
The Lady Colonels had an opportunity to play a lot of players tonight and got production from them all.
Pilar Walker finished with eight points on 4-of-7 shooting, while Alexis Cooper and Jalisa Bryant added five each and Miranda Maples had four.
Roberts said she was pleased to see the bench players play well because they will be needed during conference play.
“I was excited about how they played tonight,” Roberts said. “As we get into conference play, we want to be a team that can play 10-12 people and wear people out. So I’m pleased.”
This was the final non-conference game for EKU, which opens up OVC play on Dec. 31 at Murray State. Roberts said she feels like the tough pre-conference schedule has prepared the Lady Colonels for OVC competition.
“We wanted to play a pretty challenging schedule to help us prepare for OVC play because we know it is going to be tough in the league from top to bottom,” Roberts said. “Playing teams like Cincinnati, Louisville and Florida State, they are stronger, they are aggressive, and it forces you to play tougher and play harder. The preseason kind of gives us an idea of where we are and the things we need to focus on. We are taking steps and heading in the right direction.”
While they are undefeated at home, the Lady Colonels are winless on the road, but Roberts said it won’t be easy picking up that first road win at Murray.
“It is very important to start off with wins early in conference and we’ve struggled on the road,” Roberts said. “We’ve talked about staying focused and being engaged all the time. Every possession is important and on the road it’s not easy. So you have to be prepared to grind it out and Murray is very tough. We need to bring in the new year with a W and we’re going to work hard and try to get that done.”