ARCATA – The Humboldt State women’s basketball team shook off a slow start and finished strong, with a lead that ballooned to 19 in the fourth quarter, as it defended home court against Notre Dame de Namur, 76-63, Wednesday night in Lumberjack Arena.
“I thought for the majority of the game we played with great intensity,” said Head Coach Michelle Bento-Jackson. “But we did have some lulls, and the beginning of the game was one of them. I also wasn’t happy with how we finished the game; the last five minutes I didn’t think we played like a smart basketball team. So we have to clean up those areas and the bottom line is that we can’t have lulls. We have to be consistent with certain things for 40 minutes.”
The Lumberjacks’ start saw them fall behind 16-8 with 3:46 left in the first, but they acquired a lead in the second. HSU outscored the Argonauts 27-11 in the period, and took a 40-30 advantage into the break. They were up by as much as 17 in the third, and after Notre Dame closed to within nine late in the quarter, HSU was able to maintain a healthy margin for the entirety of the fourth quarter.
The coach was pleased that her team notched a couple shot-clock violations in the second period, and said, “We got the momentum with our defense, and it was nice to see that our defense kind of started our offense, as compared to the opposite. Sometimes teams get going off their offense, but as I said last week, our offense hasn’t been great over the last couple games. We started out this game our offense not being great. One, we need to keep shooting the ball, but we can’t rely on that. We do have to play with the kind of defense we did in the second quarter and let that get us going.”
Bento-Jackson said that going up tempo was a focus heading into the game, and while she didn’t think her squad really made that an emphasis in the first half, letting Notre Dame defensive adjustment disrupt their transition game, they did a much better job in the third quarter of getting transition buckets.
The Argonauts had dispatched Chico State, the Jacks’ opponent this Saturday, 82-80 earlier this season, but Bento-Jackson cautioned against placing too much importance on comparative scores: “Every night is different with teams, and there’s so much parity right now whether it be the teams we’re playing in non-conference or now that we’re starting conference play, that the fact Notre Dame beat Chico means nothing to me. We know what kind of team Chico is going to be bringing here on Saturday and we have to prepare regardless of what happened in their first two games.”
Kindall Murie led HSU with 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting from 3-point range, and Ashlynn Cox contributed 15 on 5-of-8 shooting from downtown. Tyla Turner had 15, and her sister Tyra Turner matched a career-high with 12 assists.
“Defensively, when we got going, I thought we were able to trust each other to be in the right places on rotations,” said Cox. “I can go over and help knowing that someone has my back, and once we got that figured out, that’s when we started getting stops and 30-second calls. I think the most exciting part of today was all the charges we took and the 30-second calls. That’s better than scoring.”
Asked about her squad’s resurgent offense in the second, third, and fourth period, Murie said, “I thought we moved the ball a lot better; we got some inside touches and that opened things up for the wings, which made my job a lot easier. I just had to catch and shoot.”
The result runs HSU to 1-2 on the young season. Next on tap for the Green and Gold is a showdown with rival Chico State in front of an ESPN3 audience Saturday, Nov. 18 in Lumberjack Arena. Fans are encouraged to wear white and Edward Jones will be giving away free T-shirts, while supplies last. Tipoff for the women's game is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.