Fort Scott Community College's women had a real shot at beating Coffeyville for the first time since 2002 Saturday afternoon. But the experience and poise of the visiting Red Ravens held up as the deciding factor at Coffeyville left Arnold Arena with a 59-55 victory in Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division play.
Still, in early December, this Greyhound team lost at Coffeyville by 53 points and FSCC head coach Diana Couch couldn't help but be proud of the improvement and effort her team put forth.
"My team did a tremendous job," Couch said. "Last time, when we were in Coffeyville, the score was ... something ridiculous. I can't be any prouder of the progress we made. The problem is we have so many freshmen, and down the stretch they wanted to win too much. So much so that they fell away from our offensive philosophy."
Ashlie Baker stepped up and went on a personal 8-0 run for the Greyhounds (3-7 East, 6-16 overall) midway through the first half that put Fort Scott ahead for the first time.
First, Baker hit a 3-point shot. Then she converted a Jolee Sharp steal into a layup. Finally, she converted a 3-point play with 5:34 to go that put the Greyhounds ahead, 21-18.
The level of energy in the gym at that point could barely be contained. And the 'Hounds were able to use it the rest of the half. Another run late in the half was started with a Baker triple and Kendra Mattox's 3-point goal with 18 seconds remaining made it a 32-26 margin at the half.
Fort Scott was succeeding even though point guard Jodi Young reinjured her right elbow early in the game, forcing Couch to go the rest of the way with just seven players and a point-guard-by-committee rotation. Sharp ended up playing the entire 40 minutes.
Fort Scott struggled with its shooting in the second half -- going just 5 of 20 from the field and missing all 9 of its 3-point attempts -- but was able to stay up on Coffeyville with some early free throws. Mattox made 3 after drawing a foul on a missed 3-pointer with 16:38 to go that boosted the margin to 38-30.
Coffeyville (8-2, 14-8) got back within 40-38 with 12:40 to go on a QuiEssence Price layup. But the 'Hounds got the lead back up to 48-40 with 7:45 to go.
The Red Ravens marched back and took the lead, 54-50, with 2:23 to go following a 14-2 run. The final two points were scored by Tiane Turner after she blocked a 3-point attempt, gathered in the loose ball and took it to the other end herself for a layup.
Fort Scott wasn't able to make a field goal in the final six minutes and made only 5 of 12 free throws down the stretch.
Couch attributed the team's second-half offensive performance to trying so hard to win that they drifted away from the regular offense and tried to do too much. Baker, she said, took too much of the load on her shoulders.
Coffeyville won despite making only 32 percent of its field-goal attempts on 21-of-65 shooting and 41 percent at the free-throw line on 15 of 37.
"Our defensive philosophy worked great," Couch said. "We held them to 59 points. We were worried about (Tiana Cannon) and she can do a lot more than (15 points). We held their shooters to 5 and 9 (points). No. 4 (Daryn Miller) can do a lot of damage and we contained her."
Coffeyville was averaging 64 points a game coming into the contest and had beaten Fort Scott by an average of 32 points in their previous four meetings.
Mattox had a career-high 22 points before fouling out. She made 7 of 14 shots from the field. Sharp finished with 16 points, 10 steals and 5 assists and Baker finished with 12 points.
Cannon was Coffeyville's only double-digit scorer. Turner and 6' 4" post Ondrea Shaw each finished with 9.
Fort Scott shot 33 percent from the field overall, making 16 of 48 fielders. The 'Hounds were outrebounded, 56-39, and committed 22 turnovers.
Shaw had 14 rebounds for Coffeyville while McKenna Britton had 11.
Although the Greyhounds have to make a trip to Johnson County, the No. 2-ranked team in NJCAA Division II, Wednesday night, they can gain some ground on Kansas City and Labette for a seed that will give them a home game in the first round of the Region VI Tournament in games at Arnold Arena against Labette Saturday and Neosho County February 9.
"We're working for that Regional (home) game, so we just have to worry about getting it spot by spot," Couch says. "Just like last year, I told them, 'As long as we learn something every game, we'll learn to use it.' It could come down to us and something like Cloud County and this time, we'll be in control at the end of the game."
Wednesday evening's tip-off is at 5:30 p.m.
NOTES -- This was Coffeyville's 19th consecutive victory over the Greyhounds. Fort Scott's last victory in the series came in January of 2002. That win was the 10th in a row for the 'Hounds on their way to a 14-0 start in division play that season under head coach Nathan Daume and led by New Zealand Olympic team player Noni Wharmate....
This was the closest margin in the series since a 77-74 loss to Coffeyville on January 3, 2009, under Stasha Richards....
Cannon came into this contest as the conference's second-leading scorer at 17.8 points per game. Butler's Abby Fawcett leads at 18.8 ppg. Sharp is eighth at 13.5 ppg.
Sharp is also third in field-goal percentage (53.6 percent), second in steals (3.7, which leads all Eastern Division players), tied for ninth in offensive rebounds (2.95) and tied for tenth -- teammate Briana Bonaparte among them -- in blocked shots (1.0)....
COFFEYVILLE: Jackson 0-1 0-0 0, Rolls 0-0 0-0 0, Miller 2-5 0-0 5, Turner 3-6 2-8 9, McKenzie 1-4 2-4 4, Britton 4-7 0-1 8, Frazier 0-5 4-6 4, Price 2-5 1-4 5, Cannon 5-15 5-8 15, Shaw 4-14 1-6 9. TOTALS: 21-65 15-37 59.
FORT SCOTT: Crow 0-6 0-2 0, Young 0-0 0-0 0, Sharp 4-12 8-12 16, Singletary 0-2 1-4 1, Mattox 7-14 5-6 22, Carter 1-3 1-3 3, Baker 4-10 2-3 12, Bonaparte 0-1 1-2 1. TOTALS: 16-48 18-32 55.
Halftime: Fort Scott, 32-26.
Three-point field goals: Coffeyville 2-7 (Miller 1-3, Turner 1-3, Frazier 0-1), Fort Scott 5-20 (Mattox 3-8, Baker 2-4, Sharp 0-2, Crow 0-6).
Total fouls: Coffeyville 21, Fort Scott 26. Fouled out: Shaw, Mattox. Technical foul: Fort Scott head coach Couch.
Rebounds: Coffeyville 56 (Shaw 14, Britton 11), Fort Scott 39 (Singletary 7, Carter 7). Assists: Coffeyville 10 (Britton 3), Fort Scott 9 (Sharp 5). Turnovers: Coffeyville 20, Fort Scott 22. Steals: Coffeyville 13 (Turner 4), Fort Scott 12 (Sharp 10). Blocked shots: Coffeyville 4 (Shaw 2), Fort Scott 4 (Sharp 2).