With five players scoring eight or more points – including Kayla Harrell's game-high 17 – Truman rolled to a mercy-clock 67-33 victory over Noland Road rival William Chrisman Monday night in the opening round of the Lee's Summit North Tournament.
The Patriots dominated the first quarter, taking a 22-4 lead the Bears never challenged.
“A game like this does not bother me nearly as much in December as it would in the middle of January,” Chrisman coach Lindsay Thompson said after her youthful Bears fell to 1-1. “We've talked a lot about toughness, and that's an area I am concerned about with our team.
“We can use this as a learning experience because we didn't show much toughness tonight. We really struggled, but the girls never gave up.”
That was personified when freshman guard Adreon Bell dove in the stands for a loose ball with just 17 seconds left in the fourth period.
“We have to get over the 'Oh, no, we're playing Truman,' approach to games,” the veteran coach added. “We are a better team than we showed tonight. We got off to the terrible start, but we did some good things later in the game.”
For the Patriots, the only flaw in a near-flawless performance was their 6-of-24 free throw shooting.
“You need to get someone besides Wilt Chamberlain teaching the girls how to shoot free throws,” quipped Truman activities director Eric Holm, referring to the NBA Hall of Famer who struggled so much with free throw attempts that he shot them underhanded.
After a win like that, even coach Steve Cassity could grin at Holm's comment.
“Free throw shooting is a little bit like hitting in baseball,” Cassity said. “It can be contagious – and tonight, it was contagious because no one seemed to want to hit one.”
However, if the 2-0 Patriots were ever going to select a game to struggle at the line, this was the night.
With Becca Jonas dominating in the paint and Harrell controlling the tempo at both ends of the court, the Patriots put it on cruise control and easily maintained their early-season perfect record.
“This was just an awesome game, except for the free-throw shooting,” said Jonas, who finished with eight points in a limited role that saw many of the Patriot reserves playing most of the second half.
“We can run, we can pass, we can shoot and on most nights, we can hit our free throws. What made this game so much fun is that everyone contributed to the win.”
Abby Hix scored 12 and Bri Savidge and Sydney Paialii came off the bench to add nine and eight points, respectively.
“We had sophomores and juniors and starters from last year playing, and we all played so well together,” Savidge said. “It's still early in the season and we're really looking like a team that has been together for a long time.”
While there weren't many highlights for the Bears, Haley Rodriguez received praise from Thompson after scoring a team-high 14 points.
“I stopped practice the other day and yelled at Haley, because she was getting the ball down low and kicking it back out to her teammates,” Thompson said. “I told her to take it to the basket. I guess she was listening.”