Unfortunately for coach Carol Wilson and her players, only the
numbers on the scoreboard reflect the game's winner. Despite giving
Illinois Central College a first-half scare, those numbers at
Sheffer-Davidson Gymnasium read 93-71 in favor of the Cougars. The
Lady Lynx fall to 1-2 on the season.
"We told them after the game
that it was definitely a moral victory," said Wilson. "ICC is a very
talented team, and we gave them all we had. If we come out and play
as hard as we did tonight every game, we're going to be pretty
"We told them (before the game) that this is a once-in-a-lifetime
opportunity. They'll probably never get another chance to say you
knocked off the number one team in the nation. We told them they had
nothing to lose and to just go out, play hard for 40 minutes and see
The Lady Lynx got off to a fast start, playing the Cougars even
through the first 15 minutes. A 24-23 lead with 5:41 remaining in
the first half would be the last lead for LC, as an ICC bucket gave
the Cougars a 25-24 lead. The visitors outscored the Lady Lynx 12-6
over the last five minutes to take a 37-31 lead into the half.
"We came out and played very well," said Wilson. "I thought we
played great defense, we handled their pressure, kept their big girl
in check. Then, at about the 4½-minute mark, we started losing focus
and they made a nice little run."
ICC would keep the momentum into the early part of the second
half, pulling away to a double-digit lead despite LC's attempts at
an epic comeback. A Gina Thompson 3-pointer with 9:40 seconds left
in the second half cut the Cougar lead to nine, with the Lady Lynx
ICC would respond with a game-sealing 10-0 run over the next
three minutes, which left the Lady Lynx trailing 80-61 with 6:46
remaining in the game.
"The second half, we just missed some shots early that we needed
to make," Wilson said. "We started getting impatient with our
offense. And, they were in the bonus with 16 minutes left in the
second half, and we didn't capitalize on that at all. We kind of
backed off of them and let them get a big enough lead to coast."
The Lady Lynx were led in scoring by Kellie Klassen and Johnna
Wesby, each finishing with 11 points.
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Particularly detrimental to Wilson's squad was the play of ICC's
Suzanne Bofia. The 6-foot-6 sophomore forward finished with 29
points to lead the Cougars.
"We tried to limit her the best we could," said Wilson. "We
wanted to push her around a little bit and try to keep her away from
the basket, make her shoot something other than a 2-footer and stop
her from getting second chances.
"We knew coming in it would be a challenge for us. That kind of
size is just tough to stop, no matter what you do. After a while, I
think it wears on you, and that's what happened tonight."
Another troublesome element for LC was ICC's patented full-court
press defense, which helped contribute to 23 Lady Lynx turnovers and
made finding an offensive rhythm difficult for the home team.
"That's their bread and butter," said Wilson. "They pressure you
end to end. They like to play 40 minutes of ‘who can handle the ball
"We did a nice job handling it early, and then we just lost
focus. We got away from it a little bit, and then certain people
just tried doing too much."
"We want to make every game an up-tempo game," said ICC coach
Steve Garber. "I thought in the beginning, we came out flat and
missed some easy buckets. As the game went on, we really focused."
One thing that went unquestioned by both coaches was the effort
put out by the Lady Lynx.
Garber, in particular, came away impressed by his opponent.
"The thing with being number one is you're always going to get
everyone's best effort," said Garber. "Lincoln certainly played
hard, and I give those kids a lot of credit. They really gave us
their best shot."
Wilson, while pleased with the effort of her squad, was hardly
surprised by it.
"They are always going to do that," said Wilson. "That's how they
play. Our girls are always expected to give the other team and the
fans their best effort, night in and night out."