Spartans Ride Free Throws and Swarming Defense to IIAC First Place

Jan 29, 2015


CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – The University of Dubuque women’s basketball team swiped 15 steals, made 21 of 24 free throws, and survived a flurry of first half threes to defeat Coe, 77-72, on Wednesday night.

Jenna Kotas finished with a game-high 16 points while Kayla Springer added 11 points and eight boards to give the Spartans (12-6, 6-1 Iowa Conference) their second straight win over the Kohawks (12-6, 5-2 Iowa Conference) and sole possession of first place in the IIAC standings at the conclusion of the first half of conference play.

After four lead changes in the second half, the Spartans had had enough after securing the lead with 9:09 remaining. The Kohawks got within one point, but Kotas and Springer combined to sink six straight free throws with under 20 seconds remaining to keep the Kohawks at bay. Springer iced the win when her final two free throws at the one second mark provided the final margin of victory. Springer finished the night 8-for-8 from the line while Kotas ended up 4 of 4.

The Spartans, who lead the IIAC in free throws attempted with 190, utilized their quickness and attacking mentality to neutralize the Kohawks size down low. Coe featured three starters 5’10” or taller against UD’s one (Kotas).

Early on, caution was exercised against Coe’s 6’2” center, Megan Hayes, as the Kohawks took advantage and made six threes in the first half. The Kohawks long-range prowess – fourth in nation in three-point percentage (39.4) – put the Spartans in an early 12-2 hole. Kotas’ three stopped the bleeding as UD clawed its way back to a 37-36 halftime edge. Meggie Schmidt (5-for-7 from the field) and Kotas were instrumental in the comeback after scoring a combined 20 points in the first.

Schmidt‘s stellar play was somewhat suppressed in the second half after picking her fourth foul with eight minutes remaining. The reigning IIAC Athlete of the Week finished with 14 points, three assists, and two steals.

Coach Mark Noll’s substitution method of platooning two groups of five paid dividends as the game wore on. Platooning allowed the Spartans to play uptempo with a stable of ballhawking players that forced 20 total turnovers. Springer tallied a game-high five steals as UD held the 22-7 edge in points off turnovers.

Emily Brinker anchored UD’s second platoon with 13 points on 6 of 9 shooting that included an ankle-breaking turnaround jumper that broke a 67-67 tie late in the game.

Coe reserve, Courteney McCrary, paced the Kohawks with 16 points and four assists on 6-for-9 production in the field.

The Spartans aim for the season sweep of rival Loras this Saturday, January 31 at 2:00 p.m. on the road. The Duhawks (11-7, 5-2 Iowa Conference) defeated Wartburg at home, 62-58, on Wednesday night. UD beat Loras in Stoltz, 57-54, on January 21.