Ashley Panem and Ky Buell each had a double-double and the 17th-ranked Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team used a strong second half to earn a 67-53 win over Lamar Community College Thursday at Cougar Palace.
Panem finished the game with 13 points, 10 rebounds, and three 3-pointers, while Buell had 14 points, 10 rebounds and three 3-pointers to pace the Cougars.
It was the first time the Cougars played at home since Feb. 24 and it was a big win for the Cougar women according to Buell.
“I think we played OK,” she said. “We are starting to find our groove after coming back from the break that we had. I still don’t think we are where we need to be. We are going to keep working and keep pushing, but we still have work to do and that is what we are going to do.”
After the Cougars fell twice last week to Otero and McCook, this win is a big momentum boost to lock up a first-round bye in the regional tournament. The top two seeds in the South sub-region will get a bye and WNCC is fighting for the second seed.
“This is a big win. A win is a win no matter how you get it and it goes in the win column and it gets your confidence up,” Buell said. “So, it is huge for us to come back and put a W in the win column and get back to work because we know we have stuff we want to get done.”
The first half wasn’t the best played by either team. WNCC jumped out to a 10-4 lead and then watched Lamar outscore the Cougars 11-4 the rest of the first half to hold a 15-14 lead after one period.
The second quarter saw Lamar juimp to a 19-14 lead and led 21-18 later on. The Cougars came back after free throws by Panem and a bucket by Emma Johnson at 6:14 to play in the half to put WNCC up 22-21. WNCC led 28-23 on a Yara Garcia bucket. WNCC led 30-27 on a Isabelle Cook bucket before Lamar hit to late free throws at the end of the second quarter. WNCC led at halftime 30-29.
The second half was where the Cougars started to flex their talent. Lamar did go up 36-35 on an underhanded lay-up. IT was then the Cougars stepped up, going on a 9-0 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers by Buell for a 44-36 lead. WNCC led after three periods 46-40.
The fourth quarter saw Lamar hit a trey to open the last 10 minutes, but Bella Sparaco had a driving bucket to put WNCC back up 48-43. Panem then hit two threes for a 56-44 lead. Moments later, Buell nailed a trey and WNCC led 65-47. WNCC went on to win 67-53.
The second half was huge for the Cougars as they shot 46 percent in the second half and 33 percent in the first half. WNCC had just one trey in the opening 20 minutes but had five 3-pointers in the second half.
Alejah Douglas also had 10 points for the Cougars while Cook and Johnson each had eight points.
WNCC will be back in action on Tuesday when they host Otero Junior College in a 4 p.m. contest at Cougar Palace.
Lamar 15 14 11 13 – 53
WNCC 14 16 16 21 – 67
Yazmeen Henderson 5, Sophia Trujillo 3, Jada Daupree 11, Althea Angeles 16, Angie Lopez 2, Tayler Dossey 11, Vivian Castro 5.
Alejah Douglas 10, Yara Garcia 2, Bella Sparaco 2, Ky Buell 14, Martrice Brooks 2, Shanti Henry 6, Ashley Panem 13, Payton Fields 2, Isabella Cook 8, Emma Johnson 8.