After rattling off six consecutive victories, including a title at the Wine Valley Tournament in Napa last weekend, the Lady Miners made it seven in a row Thursday night with an impressive 61-41 win against Colfax.
Nevada Union (10-3) moved the ball well all game and found open shots but had trouble converting from the field in the first half.
It was the defense that kept the squad ahead the entire way, forcing bad passes and coming up with steals that led to opportunities in transition.
“In the first half, we came out cold,” said coach John McDaniel. “We had lots of good looks. It just didn’t go in the basket. When you get that many looks with this set of girls, they’re going to start dropping.”
Both teams committed plenty of turnovers and fouls in the first half, combining for 13 fouls.
“We’re a hustle team,” said Nevada Union guard Emma Peterson. “We just play as hard as we can, then someone just as good as you will come in.”
Returning for the Lady Miners and playing a key role was Peterson who had missed the last seven games after being out with a concussion. With Sydney Porter out sick Thursday night, Peterson came through to lead the Lady Miner attack.
“Emma just has energy all the time,” said McDaniel. “She was our spark plug in the first quarter when we couldn’t get it going,”
Opening the second half leading 23-14, the Lady Miners began an exhilarating run to put the game out of reach. Their first two possessions resulted in two 3-pointers. Colfax countered with a 3-pointer of its own, but Nevada Union responded with a 12-2 scoring run.
“Our press worked well in the second half,” said NU’s Nicole Lierly. “The mosquito trap, it’s where everyone rotates, and we force a lot of turnovers.”
Lierly led all NU scorers with 16 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
At times, the Lady Miners’ best offense was their suffocating defense, frequently causing Colfax (7-5) to look confused and make simple mistakes with the basketball. In the third quarter, NU came alive, outscoring the Lady Falcons 21-9 to take a comfortable 21-point lead into the fourth quarter.
“Everyone has confidence in everyone else,” McDaniel said. “We keep the volume up the whole time, pick up momentum here and there and talk all the time. It was good to get a win.”
By the fourth quarter, Colfax could no longer manage Nevada Union’s relentless press defense. The Lady Miners forced three turnovers in Colfax’s first three possessions. Even when the Lady Falcons made a shot, the Lady Miners were already in the process of answering the call, sprinting down the court, being aggressive toward the basket and getting to the free-throw line where they shot 14-of-20 for the game.
Peterson stepped up big in her first game back with 12 points. Kaylin Martin made the most of her opportunities with eight points. Melanie O’Brien’s presence was felt in the paint as she gathered in a team-high seven boards.
Nevada Union will look to make it eight in a row at 6 p.m. Saturday when it hosts Christian Brothers.
To contact Sports Writer Brian Shepard, call (530) 477-4234 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.