It was a tale of two halves for No. 1 Jennies basketball Tuesday, but five scorers in double figures fueled the Jennies to an 86-74 win over Westminster College in the home opener at the Multipurpose Building.
The Jennies had by far their most productive first quarter of the young season, scoring 25 in the opening frame — they’d combined for 30 first-quarter points through the first three games. The Griffins were unable to adjust to the Jennies offensive outburst and had another 26 dropped on them in the second quarter.
“I loved the first half. Thought that was played with a lot of energy and was a lot of fun,” said Jennies head coach Dave Slifer.
Behind early 4-3 in front of a crowd of Warrensburg elementary school students, the Jennies sparked a 12-0 run behind five-point bursts from senior guard Sydney Crockett and sophomore guard Morgan Van Hyfte.
The Jennies slowly grew their lead in the second quarter before going on an 11-0 run over the final four minutes to lead 51-23 going into halftime. Junior forwards Megan Skaggs and Morgan Fleming combined for all but two points during the run.
The Jennies lead eclipsed 30 at the beginning of the second half, but the Griffins outscored the Jennies 39-18 over a 13-minute stretch to cut the lead to 10 at 72-62 with six minutes remaining.
“The third and fourth quarter were not indicative of Jennie basketball,” Slifer said. “We haven’t played a full game this season and we certainly didn’t tonight. Our game is going to have to come up quite a few notches for the next two.”
The trio of Fleming, Skaggs and senior guard Paige Redmond slammed the door on the Griffins scoring the Jennies final 14 points to get the win on the same day they unveiled the 2018 National Championship banner.
Skaggs led the Jennies with a season-high 22 points and added four rebounds and two assists. Fleming was right behind her with 18 points, nine rebounds and six assists. Redmond finished with 13 points, three rebounds and two assists.
“Megan Skaggs is very hard to handle for most teams,” Slifer said. “We found her in good positions and then in the third and fourth quarter we couldn’t get it to her.”
Crockett finished with 11 points and three offensive rebounds. It was Crockett’s second straight game scoring in double figures after combining for seven points in her first two games of the season.
“She’s gotten more aggressive offensively. I don’t think she has shot it particularly well yet. We keep waiting for her to catch fire and hit five straight threes,” Slifer said. “She’s made other plays though, she gets so many offensive rebounds, which extends our plays and helps us out.”
The Jennies are 4-0 and will head to San Antonio this weekend for the St. Mary’s Thanksgiving Classic where they will match up with St. Mary’s and Lubbock Christian. The game with Lubbock Christian will be a rematch of last season’s Elite Eight game in which the Jennies won 72-62.
Slifer said these games will be a test of what this team is capable of accomplishing.
“St. Mary’s is 4-1. They’re a very good team we’re playing on the road,” he said. “Then all of a sudden you have Lubbock Christian, and we all know how good they are. If we don’t play well, we’re going to go 0-2. If we play well, we’ll go 2-0.”
Tipoff between the Jennies and St. Mary’s is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Friday. The Elite Eight matchup with Lubbock Christian is scheduled to tip at 1 p.m. Saturday. Both games will be played at the Bill Greehay Arena in San Antonio.
Both games can be heard on 1450 KOKO and 98.5 The Bar with Greg Hassler calling the action.