The Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team received 23 points from Melisa Kadic in rolling to their 20th win of the season with a thundering 94-59 win over Northeastern Junior College in a Region IX South sub-region contest Saturday afternoon at Cougar Palace.
The win keeps the Cougars unbeaten in South sub-region play at 8-0 while NJC drops to 4-4 in conference action. It was also the team’s fifth straight victory, pushing the women’s record to 20-3 on the season. The 20 wins is the 31st consecutive season of 20 or more wins dating back to the 1987-88 season.
Olivia Wiberg, who finished the game with seven points and three assists, said the team played well.
“I think we wanted to focus on sharing the ball tonight and I felt like we all contributed and played good basketball,” the sophomore from Hyrum, Utah, said. “I know a lot of our games we focus on transition and stuff, so we wanted to come out and run our pace of the game instead of running their pace.”
It is that energy at the start that helped the Cougars to the win from the get-go. WNCC started off with a 7-0 run and then pushed the lead to 16-5 on back-to-back buckets by Giovanna Silva and Karli Seay. WNCC led 21-8 after the first quarter.
In fact, it was the second straight game the Cougar women exploded out of the gates and never took the foot off the gas pedal. They did the same thing a week ago when they blew past McCook 115-56. Those fast starts are crucial in the team’s goal of back-to-back regional titles as there is only about a month left before the regional tournament.
“This is the second time around playing same teams in our region so this is where we see if we want to be a good team versus a great team,” WIberg said. “We know we will see teams again and we know they will get better, but so are we.”
WNCC’s explosiveness showed in the second quarter where the Cougars went on an 8-0 run for a 31-12 lead. The Cougars pushed the lead to 48-22 and the momentum continued as Kadic nailed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer for a 51-24 halftime lead. WNCC outscored the Plainswomen 30-16 in the second period.
Kadic’s buzzer-beating trey was only the Cougars second made trey in the first half, where they were a dismal 2 of 13 from beyond the arc despite shooting 45 percent.
The second half was a different story for the Cougars in shooting, connecting on 6 of 12 treys and shooting 49 percent in the half.
Wiberg said they settled down in shooting and made some shots.
“I think when we started sharing more and getting a better shot they will fall,” Wiberg said.
WNCC kept exceling in the third period. Leading 58-35, the Cougars went on a 12-0 run behind a trey by Wiberg and Eva Langton, Later, Kadic nailed a 3-pointer for the 75-44 lead after three.
WNCC received contributions from all the players that suited up. The Cougars had four players finish with double figures. Silva had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds. She also had four steals. Kadic led all scorers with 23 points with four 3-pointers, three assists, and three steals.
Also hitting the double-digit column was Merle Wiehl with 16 points and Seay with 11 points. Wiehl had five rebounds and four assists, while Seay had five rebounds, six assists, and two steals.
WNCC also got seven points from Wiberg, Jaleesa Avery, and Anastacia Johnson.
WNCC, 20-3, will have a week off before they travel up Highway 26 to Torrington, Wyoming, on Saturday to face Eastern Wyoming College in a 5:30 start in another South Sub-region contest.
“We just need to stay focused in our practice,” Wiberg said. “When we have a lot of time between games sometimes we can get distracted and keep a mindset. I think if we stay focused in practice this week, we should come out with a good game next week.”
NJC (9-10) 8 16 20 15 – 59
WNCC (20-3) 21 30 24 19 – 94
Tashika Burrell 3, Megan Gerk 2, Josi Kurtzer 2, Asia Turner 6, Taylor Knudson 2, Kiara McElroy 17, Darci Finnigan 4, Kristen Regennitter 4, Callie Dickerson 3, Katie Diakhaby 14, Kennedi Fulwaylie 2.
Melisa Kadic 23, Merle Wiehl 16, Jaleesa Avery 7, Sophie Agorakis 4, Olivia WIberg 7, Karli Seay 11, Eva Langton 3, Josie Perez 3, Anastacia Johnson 7, Giovanna Silva 13.