North Central 102
North Park 101
Shaina Yalda: 16 pts, 11 asts, 5 rebs (3 to)
Kamauria Acree: 15 pts, 9 rebs, 6 asts
Nicole Kruckman: 12 pts
Dominikque Williams: 11 pts
Kayla McCall: 10 pts
Dana Christensen: 5 rebs
Soly Roman: 5 rebs
Becca Heimsath: 5 rebs
Callie Rezin: 19 pts
Kelsey Cooling: 14 pts
Larynn Shumaker: 13 pts, 5 rebs
Maryssa Cladis: 10 pts
Lauren Hernandez: 10 pts
Michelle Todd: 8 rebs
The "close, but no cigar" CCIW season continues for NPU. Only now the Vikings have dug a pretty deep hole, and with very formidable Carthage coming up on Wednesday, the Park could be in serious trouble of getting pushed so far down in the standings that NPU won't make the CCIW tourney.
NCC led most of the afternoon, with the Cards up by as much as 12 in a first half in which the Vikings looked shell-shocked and mentally taken out of the game by the Cardinals press; NPU turned the ball over 19 times in the first half, as NCC went into the locker room ahead, 51-40.
The second half was more of the same, with the Cards leading by 10 at the 13:14 mark before the Vikings finally started to chip away at the lead. An 8-0 NPU run cut the Cards' lead to 67-65 with 10:25 to go, and it would remain close the rest of the way. NPU took three brief leads between the nine- and seven-minute marks, but couldn't sustain the effort, as the turnovers began piling up again and the Cards got to all of the long rebounds and caused lots of NPU fouls, all because the Cards had relatively fresh legs while the Vikings were noticeably tiring.
NCC was up by eight, 97-89, with 2:53 remaining when Cards coach Michelle Roof decided to discard the press and go to a straight defense while holding the ball on offense in order to drain the clock. It was a strategy that almost backfired, as the Vikings got treys from Dana Christensen and Kayla McCall to bring NPU within two. After a pair of Bobbi Johns FTs with 18 seconds left, McCall hit another trey to put the Park down by one with nine seconds left. However, NCC ran a good inbounds play that got Johns free up the far sideline to elude a fouler and run out the clock.
NCC shot poorly from downtown (8-40), but was able to successfully get to the rim and score quite a bit, especially as NPU's legs grew weary, as the Cards hit on 40% from the field for the game. NPU did what it was supposed to do offensively, avoiding shooting the trey until late in the game (but hitting 5-7 of them, anyway), and making 58% of its shots from the field. The problem was that NPU just ran out of gas; not enough ballhandlers for the Vikes, who could've used more of Bridgette Gray (she made her season debut tonight, but was in the game for less than a minute; she's not fully ready yet, apparently). Credit NCC for not folding every time that the Vikings made a run, and for, in the end, simply outlasting the Park.
As I said, NPU is now in a deep hole with the Lady Reds coming to town on Wednesday. I don't know if the Vikings can dig their way out of it.