(Kenny Felt/Special to the Tribune)
Shoot the ball.
There were several stretches in Saturday's game against Johnson County at Arnold Arena in which no one seemed to want to take a shot. And the Cavaliers, the top-ranked team in NJCAA Division II, took advantage on their way to a 72-38 victory.
"The last couple of games, the offensive execution's been excellent," Couch said. "They just haven't been looking to score. It's getting them to look for their opportunities. And I wish I had an answer."
The Cavaliers won their 16th consecutive game -- 18th straight in Jayhawk Conference-Eastern Division play -- by flustering the Greyhounds with a full court press early then holding them off the boards much of the rest of the way.
Fort Scott turned the ball over just 16 times. But the Greyhounds (2-10 East, 7-16 overall) took only 40 shots from the field while Johnson County (12-0, 23-1) attempted 62 fielders and outrebounded the 'Hounds 40-26.
The Cavaliers used their press to force the 'Hounds to use 15 seconds to cross mid-court (there's no 10-second count in women's college basketball). That gave Fort Scott only 15 seconds at the most to run its offense.
Johnson County led 12-0 before Brittany Pearl finally got Fort Scott on the board with a 3-point goal with 14:55 left in the first half. That shot was just the Greyhounds' third attempt of the game.
The lead grew to 24-6 with 9:20 left in the half. It was 43-13 at the half.
The 'Hounds finally got things together in the last four minutes of the game. Johnson County didn't have any field goals in that time while Fort Scott outscored the Cavs 11-3.
Fort Scott has struggled since beating Labette 73-70 on February 1. That was the Greyhounds' highest output in nearly a year but since then, they haven't scored more than 38 points.
Jolee Sharp led the Greyhounds with 12 points but didn't score her first field goal until the 11-minute mark of the second half. Burgandie Lewis added 9 points and brought down 11 rebounds.
For Johnson County -- whose only loss this season is to Hutchinson, the No. 2-ranked team in Division I -- Mary Pat Specht scored 13 points and Ameshia Kearney and Amy Briggs added 11 each.
Fort Scott shot 35 percent from the field, making 11 of 40 field-goal attempts overall after going just 3 for 18 in the first half. Johnson County shot 44 percent on 27 of 62.
Wednesday night, the Greyhounds will play at Arnold Arena against Kansas City Kansas in what will be a key game for post-season Region VI-Division I tournament seeding (games against Johnson County and Highland don't count since they're Division II teams). KCK is in the No. 5 seed position with a 3-5 record against Division I teams. Labette is in the No. 6 position at 3-7 while Fort Scott is No. 7 at 2-7 (Neosho County is in the 8th slot at 2-8).
KCK won the first meeting at Kansas City on January 14, so a Fort Scott victory would even the season series. The Greyhounds have beaten both Labette and Neosho County. The Blue Devils have beaten Labette but lost to Neosho. Labette hosts Highland, ranked No. 8 in Division II, Wednesday night while Neosho County has to travel to Johnson. So if things go right, the 'Hounds could be just a half-game behind KCK with a tie-breaker in hand by the end of play Wednesday night.
And a victory could also provide badly-needed momentum.
"We can peak at the right time," Couch says. "And that's what we're going to try for every day is to hit that peak when other teams are starting to relax."
JOHNSON COUNTY: Hollingsworth 2-4 0-1 4, Kulas 3-10 1-1 7, Knox 2-3 2-2 6, Specht 5-9 0-0 13, Kearney 2-4 7-8 11, Briggs 4-11 0-0 11, Brisbane 4-5 0-1 8, Cooper 3-12 1-2 7, Harrington 2-4 1-2 5. TOTALS: 27-62 12-17 72.
FORT SCOTT: Atherton 0-1 0-0 0, Crawford 1-2 0-0 2, Pearl 1-4 0-0 3, Ivy 1-4 1-2 4, McKenzie 0-1 0-0 0, Sharp 4-7 4-7 12, Lewis 4-9 1-4 9, Arnold 3-12 2-5 8. TOTALS: 14-40 8-18 38.
Halftime: Johnson County, 43-13.
Three-point field goals: Johnson County 6-14 (Specht 3-6, Briggs 3-7, Kearney 0-1), Fort Scott 2-8 (Ivy 1-1, Pearl 1-2, Atherton 0-1, Sharp 0-1, Lewis 0-1, Arnold 0-2).
Total fouls: Johnson County 16, Fort Scott 17. Fouled out: none. Technical fouls: none.
Rebounds: Johnson County 40 (Cooper 14), Fort Scott 26 (Lewis 11). Assists: Johnson County 11 (Knox 4), Fort Scott 7 (3 with 2 each). Turnovers: Johnson County 9, Fort Scott 16. Steals: Johnson County 6 (Kearney 4), Fort Scott 1 (Sharp). Blocked shots: Johnson County 3 (Cooper 3), Fort Scott none.