Cloud County Women's Basketball Drops 89-74 Home Decision to #17 Hutchinson

Cloud County Women's Basketball Drops 89-74 Home Decision to #17 Hutchinson

Enduring seven ties and 12 lead changes in the opening 20 minutes of play, the Cloud County Community College women's basketball team would push number-17 nationally ranked Hutchinson Community College for 25-plus minutes before fading offensively in the final stretch of the game to fall by a score of 89-74 inside Arley Bryant Gymnasium on Saturday, November 20th.

Having a three-game winning streak snapped, Cloud County is now 4-3 overall while dropping their first Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference game to move to 1-1 in the KJCCC while the Blue Dragons bounce back from their first loss of the season to improve to 7-1 overall and 1-1 in league play.

The Blue Dragons would waste no time jumping out to a quick lead, scoring six points in 57 seconds to open up a 6-0 advantage on the T-Birds before seeing Cloud County get on the board with a triple from Te Araroa Sopoaga. The HCC lead would grow to eight at 14-6 with 7:25 left in the first quarter before fouls would begin to add up for the Blue Dragons which would allow CCCC to use a 9-0 run to take a 15-14 lead. Hutchinson would retake the lead momentarily before a Rori Cox free throw would tie the game at 16-16 as the two teams would trade the next four points of the contest. The Blue Dragon lead would be pushed back out to five at 23-18 on a layup, turnover, and transition three for HCC, but Cloud County would end the quarter with nine of the final 12 points including a three from Paula Puzule to put the T-Birds up 27-26 heading to the second.

Things would continue their back-and-forth action for most of the second as HCC would tie things up in the opening seconds of the quarter before giving up another Puzule three to allow Cloud County to take the lead once more. Five straight points from Hutchinson would give the Blue Dragons the lead again at 32-30 with 9:03 remaining in the first half, but an Olivia Collier Tuipulotu layup in the paint would tie the game up 17 seconds later. Three lead changes would then take place until things would again become tied at 36-36 as neither team would be able to build a multiple possession lead. Following the tie, four more lead changes would take place ending with a 7-0 Hutchinson run to go up 47-41 until a 5-0 run from Carolynn Washington would get CCCC back within one at 47-46 with 1:27 left in the second. Hutch would respond by scoring four free throws in the final minute as Puzule would hit her fourth three of the first half on the final Cloud County possession of the period to bring CCCC back within two at 51-49 going to halftime.

A drought of over three minutes would hit the T-Birds to start the second half as HCC would score the first five points of the third quarter to go up 56-49 before a Cox layup to get CCCC on the board. Hutchinson would then go on to score seven of the next nine points to take their first double-digit lead of the game at 63-53 with 4:17 left in the quarter as the lead would grow to as many as 12 before seeing Cloud County get back within single digits using an Izabella Fabrizio jumper to make it 71-62 heading to the fourth.

Another slow start to a quarter for CCCC would turn a nine-point deficit into a 14-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter as foul trouble would begin to take its toll on the T-Birds. Cloud County would have a total of four players foul out in the final 10 minutes of action as the Blue Dragons would connect on all nine fourth-quarter free-throw attempts to eliminate any possible chance at Cloud County mounting a comeback to put CCCC away late.

After shooting nearly 52 percent from the field in the first half, CCCC would struggle offensively in the final 20 minutes of action to finish the game 25-for-68 (36.8 percent) from the floor while hitting on seven-of-18 (38.9 percent) of their three-point attempts. Free throw shooting would also be suspect on Saturday for the T-Birds, going 17-for-29 (58.6 percent) after missing seven in the first half and five in the second half. Other key stats for Cloud County would include a 45-36 advantage in rebounds along with an 18-14 advantage in second-chance points. The T-Birds would struggle with points off turnovers (25-14 advantage for Hutchinson) as part of 21 turnovers by CCCC.

Five players for Cloud County would end up in double-figures led by a team-best 16 points from Cox who would also grab five rebounds and add four assists. Puzule would score 12 points on four three-point field goals while both Washington and Kennedy Becker would provide 11 off the bench. Sopoaga would net 10 points despite being limited to 23 minutes of action due to foul trouble while the rest of the team combined for just 14 points.

What's Next?
CCCC will have a short turnaround as the T-Birds will host a red-hot Independence team that is now 6-1 overall and 2-0 in the KJCCC after defeating Colby 78-55 on the road. The Pirates dropped their season opener 83-80 to Eastern Oklahoma State University, but have since won six straight including handing Hutchinson their only loss of the season.