After giving up a season-high point total, Three Rivers women's basketball coach Alex Wiggs was unhappy with the defense Friday night.
Even though the Raiders held Vincennes (Ind.) to 36% shooting and forced 22 turnovers with 14 steals, there were too many uncontested shots, especially in the first half, Wiggs said.
"The first half we weren't communicating on defense and he got on to us," Three Rivers forward Ari Winston said following an 82-67 Raiders win at the Libla Family Sports Complex.
"After halftime we started communicating and trusting each other and that's when we started getting the ball again."
The sixth-ranked Raiders (5-0) outscored Vincennes 28-13 in the third quarter after a late run put Three Rivers up 43-35 at halftime.
"The second half I thought we guarded them," Wiggs said. "The first half, we're still up, but I felt like we gave up too many wide open, uncontested shots."
Vincennes (3-1) didn't seem to take advantage, shooting 12 of 36 from the field in the first half, including 6 of 19 from 3-point range.
The Raiders didn't exactly shoot the lights out either, finishing 8 for 31 from 3-point range and sinking 44% of their shots from the field.
"When offensively it's not going, we got to make sure that we are even better on the defensive end and locked in a little bit," Wiggs said.
Opponents had averaged 55.5 points against the Raiders coming in with the opening-night 84-66 win the most allowed.
Three Rivers hosts Rend Lake (Ill.) at 3 p.m. Saturday. Rend Lake (3-1) lost to Moberly Area 84-75 earlier Friday night.
Dodd led with seven rebounds and five assists while Winston, Montogmery and Melton each pulled down six rebounds as Three Rivers enjoyed a plus-8 advantage on the boards.
"We don't care about points," Winston said of the stat sheet being so distributed.
"If we hustle and do our job, points we don't really care about."
Up 43-35 to start the second half, the Raiders held Vincennes scoreless over the next 3:40, scoring eight straight, half by Dodd. After the teams traded 3-pointers, Karlee Holland got a steal leading to a pair of free throws taken by Kourtney Kendrick after Holland dislocated her finger. Holland later returned, finishing with six points, four rebounds, three steals and two assists.
Melton hit a 3 from straight away off a pass from Dodd, who later set up Abby Turner for a 61-40 lead.
The Trailblazers ended a drought of 3:10 and trailed 71-48 entering the fourth when the put together a 15-4 run to get within a dozen. Melton answered with a baseline jumper at the 1:43 mark and later got a three-point play.
"People are going to score on us," Wiggs said. "We knew they were going to try to high-low us, throw to the high post and skip passes.
"We've got to continue to work on defense."
Vincennes managed five points in the opening four minutes as the Raiders put together a 10-2 run for a 13-5 lead when Dodd picked off a pass and scored at the other end.
The Trailblazers answered with a 10-3 run to get within a point after consecutive 3-pointers by Cherrelle Newsom, who finished with 13 points.
Winston scored on a drive from the high post and later finished the quarter with a free throw after rebounding her own miss as the Raiders took a 21-17 lead into the second.
Kylee Shelton, who scored 13, sank a 3 after the Trailblazers picked off a pass and Day Thornton put Vincennes in front 22-21 with a runout on a missed 3 by the Raiders.
Dodd answered with a drive down the lane, scoring through a foul, but Shelton's 3 tied it at 25-all before the freshman knocked down a catch-and-shoot jumper on the baseline for the lead.
Montgomery's block on a 3-point attempt later put the Raiders on a break and and Holland found McMillen for a 3 for a 28-27 lead with 6:15 left in the half.
Three Rivers never trailed again.
Holland got a steal, saving the ball out of bounds, before Dodd found McMillen for a 3.
Thornton answered with a 3 to make it a one-point game but Yelder and Mariah Smith connected on consecutive 3s while Holland knocked down another from the corner for a 40-31 lead. Winston's free throw gave Three Rivers its first double-digit lead with 46 seconds left in the half before Yelder sank two foul shots to cap an 18-6 run to go up 12.
Vincennes scored twice in the closing seconds to trail 43-35 at the break.
The Raiders sank only 2 of 13 shots from 3-point range in the second half but finished 14 of 17 from the foul line and held a fifth straight opponent to under 70.
"Even when shots aren't falling, that's the most important thing," Wiggs said. "That's what makes good teams great."
Brian Rosener - Daily American Republic