It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t take long for senior forward Alli Volkens to assert herself in Wednesday night’s game against the Mavericks of Nebraska-Omaha. Volkens, who finished the game with 14 points, 18 rebounds and four blocks, helped the Hornets overcome a sloppy offensive performance.
“It was a win,” Volkens said. “I’m glad that we won, but I should have finished a lot of plays in there that I didn’t finish… I need to come stronger, just continue to work hard I guess.”
Each team struggled shooting from the floor in the first half as neither shot above 34 percent – the Mavericks shooting just 20 percent. Much like their last time out, the Hornets continued to turn the ball over with 10 in the half and 21 in the game.
“I told them afterwards that if we have that kind of defensive effort, we’ll win twenty games no matter what, if we play that way offensively, twenty’s all we’ll win,” said head coach Jory Collins. “The turnovers are really frustrating cause it’s not one person… It’s unacceptable and it’s frustrating.”
ESU began the game in control as they lead 16-6 early behind Volkens and freshman forward Kelsey Balcom who had a combined eight of the teams first 16. The Hornets would finish off the half on a 17-6 run to lead 37-22. Volkens added 10 rebounds and two blocks to her eight points in the opening period.
Volkens would get her double-double in the first minute of the second half. ESU controlled the score for most the half, but with 7:37 left senior center Negesti Taylor went down with what appeared to be a knee injury. The Mavericks closed the gap to just eight points with less than four minutes remaining.
Volkens and the Hornets answered with four consecutive points to push the lead to 12. A three pointer by Heather Pohl of Nebraska-Omaha with 1:41 left, however, kept the Mavericks alive. Clutch free throw shooting down the stretch allowed the Hornets to seal up the 66-54 victory.
Though the offensive effort was far from pretty, ESU can hang their hat on their defensive effort. They forced 14 turnovers and held Nebraska-Omaha to under 27 percent field goal percentage for the game.
“That’s one of my favorite stats is field goal percentage defense,” Collins said. “I was really happy with that. I thought we didn’t give up many uncontested shots. I thought all the shots they took we had a hand up in their face for the most part.”
They Hornets, now 6-1 overall and 3-0 in the MIAA, travel to play Central Missouri on the road for their next game on Dec. 11.