By Mike Pilosof
Trinidad, CO-A day after having one of their worst first-quarter shooting performances of the young season, Omega Tandy's team came out with one of their best on Saturday.
Sparked by Dasja Ross, who scored 12 of her team-high 18 points in the opening frame, the Broncbusters led for all but 49 seconds, shooting nearly 50 percent in the first quarter and 45 for the game, as they steamrolled Trinidad State 71-56 at Scott Gym on the final day of the Trinidad Classic.
"I was really impressed how this team came out focused," Tandy said afterwards. "I wasn't exactly sure how they would respond to yesterday. They came out prepared, and that was player led."
The Trojans only lead came after Adonica Baca-Martinez hit two free throws to start the game after Garden City was called for a technical foul. From there, the Broncbusters found their groove. Ross hit a driving layup, Jaleah Bellany nailed a 3, and Ross drained a trey for an early four-point edge. Once the Trojans tied it at 10, the Broncbusters closed the quarter on a 10-4 run, punctuated by Tyla Happer's long 3-pointer. They were up six going to the second and took their first double-digit lead of the afternoon when Bellany swished two free throws. She added a triple moments later, Felicity Houston hit a pullup from inside the arc, and Ross added a deuce for a 35-18 lead with six minutes to go in the half.
"We really got off to a strong start," Tandy said. "That was really important for us after what happened yesterday."
The Broncbusters built their lead to as many as 19 in the first half after Alyssa Boyce canned a midrange shot with 48 seconds to play. They took a 43-25 lead into the locker room.
"One thing we talked about at half was knowing that Trinidad State always makes a run in the third quarter," Tandy said. "So we had to come out with the mindset that it's 0-0."
And sure enough, the Trojans blitzed Garden City out of the intermission, responding with a 15-2 run. And once Maria Llorente splashed home two free throws, the Broncbusters' once 19-point advantage was down to five, 45-40 with 3:53 to play in the third.
"We changed some things going into the fourth defensively," Tandy said. "They were hurting us getting to the basket. So we had to stop the layups and grab rebounds."
The Trojans kept attacking and ended the third with Samantha Quigley's buzzer-beater that pulled them to within 54-49. But whatever momentum the home team gathered in the third, was completely wiped away by Garden City in the final period. Donetria McGee knocked down a jumper, Bellany hit a 3-pointer, Debora Ford rattled in a short shot, and Boyce buried a long ball, putting the finishing touches on a 16-0 run that put the game away. In all, the Broncbusters held the Trojans scoreless for the first 7:13 of the fourth while building their lead to as many as 21.
Ross finished the day 7-of-10 from the field and added six assists for the Broncbusters, who enter conference play at 4-4. Bellany chipped in 14, and Boyce scored 14 in 21 minutes off the bench.
Baca-Martinez paced Trinidad State with 13 points, and Quigley tallied 12.
Next up: Garden City vs. Cloud County-Wednesday, Nov. 27-4 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app