The Hesston College women’s basketball team was defeated by Johnson County Community College (Overland Park, Kan.) 89-31 on Saturday, Jan. 25, a final score that doesn’t do justice to the way the Larks played.
Playing against the top-ranked team in NJCAA Div. II, the Larks shot just 21 percent from the floor. To their credit, they created open shots but were unable to convert. Despite the Cavaliers scoring 89 points, Hesston head coach Dan Harrison thought his players continued to fight defensively despite the offensive struggles.
“Even if the basketball’s not going in the hole you can always play defense,” Harrison said. “We rebounded well and even when we got hammered we knew we had to fight.”
JCCC shot an impressive 55 percent from the floor and held a 58-24 edge in rebounding. Four different Cavaliers reached double figures in scoring while the Larks had none. The final score betrays the reality of how close the game was played, but tells an honest tale about just how good this undefeated squad truly is.
Hesston was led in scoring by sophomore Nikki Lowry (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and freshman J’liyah Tillman (Muskogee, Okla.) who both contributed six points off the bench. Sophmore Nikkita Lester (Colorado Springs, Colo.) had a balanced statline with four points, four assists and a team-high five rebounds.
Johnson raced to a 13-2 lead after six minutes and led 22-4 ten minutes in. Hesston’s offense started to click a little after that point but Johnson continued to step on the gas on their way to a 49-19 halftime lead.
The loss stings in any context, but coach Harrison knows what he wants his players to take away from a loss to a team like this.
“You have to challenge those who want to play at the next level,” Harrison remarked. “What do you have to do to compete at the level of the nation’s best? Hopefully this game was a lesson.”
The Larks (10-10) next home game is 6 p.m. against Fort Scott (Kan.) CC on Wednesday, Jan. 29.
—JD Hershberger, for The Horizon