Freshman helps Pirates sink Centre women 74-51

January 11, 2004|LARRY VAUGHT

Just when it looked like nothing else could go wrong for the Centre College women's basketball team, it did.

Southwestern University freshman guard Priyanka Kainthla came off the bench to go 10-for-12 from the field, including 5-for-7 from 3-point range, in a phenomenal shooting exhibition in the first half Friday to spark an easy 74-51 victory over the Colonels.

Centre (3-10, 0-2 Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference) had two players transfer, lost leading returning scorer Amy Barlow to a knee injury, recently had a player quit and has another player attending classes overseas this semester. Those problems, combined with the loss of last year's seniors, have left Centre coach Jennifer Ruff with just eight players.

Southwestern used 12 players and each played at least 13 minutes.

"We ran a lot and wanted to wear them down," winning coach Kerri Brinkoeter said. "Or at least that was the plan."


Of course, the better plan was just to get the ball to Kainthla, who hit eight straight shots in the first half. She had 25 first-half points in just 11 minutes of play. Even though the freshman went 1-for-4 in the second half and scored just two points, she did more than enough damage to put the game out of reach the first half.

"She got to hitting shots and we just did not find her in our zone defense," Ruff said. "We are outmanned, but we just did not do a good job of covering spots in the zone. Obviously, we are going to play a lot of zone because of our matchup problems, but we just lost our focus in the first half."

Southwestern (6-6, 1-1) took a 17-6 lead in just over five minutes, but was on top only 29-18 midway through the half. However, Centre went 10 minutes without a field goal and Kainthla's shooting overwhelmed the Colonels.

A 14-1 scoring spurt pushed the advantage to 43-19 and the winners had a commanding 51-29 lead at halftime.

Southwestern, which has only one senior, shot 65.6 percent (21-for-32) from the field in the first half. Centre shot 56.3 percent, but got 16 less shots than the winners because of 18 turnovers.

"We don't usually shoot the ball anything like we did the first half," Brinkoeter said. "Kainthla is an amazing player, but she's never hit a run like that. She's a great shooter, but this had to be one of her best shooting halves ever.

"We didn't come into the game thinking it would be an easy win. We have a lot of respect for Centre, but we just came out ready to play after making the long trip here."

Ruff's team will face another team from Texas today when it hosts Trinity, the defending Division III national champion and the nation's fifth-ranked team this year.

"They will be the best team we play all year," Ruff said. "They only lost three players off last year's team. We've just got to work as hard as we can and remember that on any given day anything can happen.

"We are very limited in what we can do because of our numbers. But there are things we can do, and we've got to do them great, not average. We can do a lot better defensively and have to be a great defensive team to be competitive. Our players are giving effort and we had at least been staying in games until tonight."

About the only thing Centre did well was shoot free throws as the Colonels were 16-for-21 from the foul line while Southwestern made its only attempt. However, the winners got off 27 more shots because they forced 28 turnovers and made only 11.

Junior guard Erika Dunkman had 15 points, eight assists, two blocked shots and two steals in 20 minutes of play for Southwestern.

Sophomore Shelly Johnson led Centre with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting. Liz Braun had 10 rebounds and Mary Klee eight to help Centre win the battle of the boards 35-26.

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