The Lamar Community College Women's Basketball team completed six road games in nine days to open their season. During that stretch, they played Kansas Wesleyan University JV and Garden City at the Garden City Pepsi Classic, Hesston College, #9 Hutchinson Community College, #19 Casper College, and Colorado Northwestern.
After dropping all six contests, Coach Landon Steele said, "It's not all doom and gloom. We are a better team than what we have shown so far. Everyone wants to start with wins, but playing really good teams now is going to help us prepare for the Region games."
The Lopes started the season with the Pepsi Classic, held November 4-5 in Garden City, Kansas.
The team dropped the first game of the season to KWU JV by a score of 55-62. Lamar struggled to connect from the field in the early stages of the game and found themselves down 16 points at half time. After employing a full court press and a zone defense known as the "Buzz," the Lopes were able to make up some ground before falling short at the end. Lamar was led by Damilola Balogun with 11 points and 17 rebounds, and Kiara Budd with 10 points and 7 rebounds.
The Lopes came out with energy and enthusiasm on Saturday against the host team Garden City. This led to a one point advantage at the end of the first quarter and the Lopes were able to hold the Busters to a seven point lead at the half. Lamar was able to make the game interesting by coming from a 13 point deficit in the third quarter to tying the game with 1:18 left in regulation. However, Garden City held on by hitting one of two free throws and a layup in the final minute.
Lamar was had three players in double figures: Damilola Balogun with 17 points, Sabela Reigosa with 11 points, and Kiara Budd with 10. Balogun added eight rebounds and Claudia Del Moral added nine assists.
After only a day's rest, the Lopes traveled to Hesston, Kansas, to take on the Larks of Hesston College. Poor shooting and turnovers plagued the Lopes, who shot 26% from the field and gave the ball away 25 times.
"Thats not a winning combination. When you aren't making shots you cannot give the opposing team more opportunities and you have to step it up defensively. Against Hesston we were unable to do either of those things," said Steele.
Balogun again led the team in scoring and rebounding, tallying 17 points and nine rebounds. She was joined in double figures by Caylynn Wolf with 14 points.
The next night, Lamar ran into a stifling defense from #9 Hutchinson. The Blue Dragons used a full court pressure man to man defense to spark their offense. Their defensive pressure led them to a 26 point lead in the first quarter. The Lopes were unable to get a double figure scorer or rebounder in the game as they were only able to manage 33 points on the night.
Steele commented, "Hutchinson is very good. They have been a national title contender for several years now, and it's good for our players to go against that caliber of an opponent. In the long run this game will help us as we continue to build for the future of the program."
Facing their second top-20 ranked team in four days, the Lopes continued their turnover and cold shooting struggles for three quarters of the game. After falling behind 26-63, LCC was able to outscore Casper College 26 to 16 in the fourth quarter. The team showed signs of life as the Lopes were able to connect on seven three-point shot attempts in the quarter, and 11 made threes for the game.
Sabela Reigosa led Lamar in scoring with 11 points.
Less than 24 hours later, LCC was back in action against Colorado Northwestern Community College. LCC and CNCC played an even first half, with a tied score of 26 at the break. The Spartans caught fire in the second half as they were able to shoot 16 of 27 from the field for 32 points. Lamar held the Spartans to one for 12 from the three-point line, but it was not enough to overcome the seven for 29 shooting performance in the second half or the 27 turnovers for the game.
"We are only six games into the season, and we haven't had one night, except for maybe the Garden City game, where multiple players played well on the same night," said Coach Steele. "When we start putting full games together, not a quarter and not a half, but full games, we will be good. Right now our lack of ball control and cold shooting is hurting our defensive mindset and effort."
LCC will play their first home game of the season on Tuesday, November 15, at 4:00 PM against Frank Phillips College.