Broncbusters fight through foul trouble to down NOC Tonkawa
Enid, OK-The seven players Greg Franklin had available for the first three games of the season, quickly dwindled to six just hours before tipoff on Friday.
But with a national championship winning coach in tow, the roster size didn't matter much.
Without Opal Hardy, who was sidelined with an undisclosed illness, Sierra Driessen took charge, scoring 12 of her game-high 22 points in the fourth quarter, Ana Ramos Pires chipped in 12 points and eight rebounds, and Garden City beat Northern Oklahoma College Tonkawa, 63-57 at the Mabee Center.
"This one feels really good, but I felt like we could have played harder and with more energy," Driessen said afterwards. "Considering we played with just six players, we played pretty decent."
The Broncbusters shot just 34 percent from the field and turned the ball over 19 times. But they made 11-of-15 from the line including 4-of-5 down the stretch.
"We really needed to pick up our intensity in that fourth quarter," Driessen said. "We should have never been in a close game, but we just needed more energy."
Garden City, which improved to 3-1 on the season, could never really pull away. They were up one at the end of one and took a three-point lead into the intermission. And it didn't help matters that Ramos picked up her third foul midway through the second period.
"The girls were really frustrated because they wanted to go out and fly around," Franklin explained. "But because of the way teams are defending us, and the fact that we only had six players, made us more conservate, especially with fouls."
Ramos returned and played every minute of the second half despite picking up her fourth foul early in the final quarter. She was one of three Broncbusters who played with four for a good portion of the second half.
"We really had to be conservate towards the end of the game," Franklin added. "I know what our girls were thinking when they had four."
Still, Garden City found a way. Ramos made a layup off a pretty Sariah Conley assist, Stevi Yancy nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key, and the visitors were up six going to the fourth. Yancy converted a driving layup three minutes into the final period, and Driessen got around Keely Hussey for 2, giving the Broncbusters their largest lead of the afternoon, 53-44 with six minutes to go.
"In that type of situation with foul trouble, you still have to find a way to be aggressive," Franklin said. "You just have to be smart."
Even with a nine-point cushion, the offense struggled to close. The Mavericks responded with five straight points as Garden City went scoreless over the next 2:30. That was until Driessen and Ramos made back-to-back buckets to stretch the lead back to eight. Driessen then drained four free throws over the final 90 seconds to give Garden City it's second win away from home.
Yancy scored 13 points and had six steals for Garden City, which shot under 40 percent for a third straight game. Antonicia Moultrie added nine points and a team-best 12 rebounds.
Brooke Robertson was one of three Mavericks in double figures with 13 points. Allison Green and Kaydrin Scott each had 10.