Triton women post home win

Making its final home appearance of the regular season, the Iowa Central women’s basketball team answered the call Thursday night.

Behind a balanced offensive attack, the Tritons (20-8 overall, 11-4 in the league) posted a 74-63 ICCAC triumph over Southeastern on Dennis Pilcher Court at Hodges Fieldhouse.

“We really needed this win (Iowa Central remains tied with 17th-ranked (NJCAA Div. II) Des Moines Area for second place in the conference race),” ICCC head coach Craig Carlson said. “I’m just thrilled with what our kids have been able to do this year. You look at where our team is right now and where we started, we’ve come an awful long way since the beginning of the season.”

Miliakere Koyamainavure powered the Tritons with 20 points on 10-for-13 shooting. The 5-foot-8 freshman forward also contributed eight rebounds and four steals.

“Koyamainavure is a nightmare for opponents to guard,” said Carlson. “She uses her strength to get by smaller people and her quickness to get past bigger ones.”

Katie Dentlinger (18), St. Edmond graduate Lydia Harvey (12) and Babaye Oja (11) were the other double-figure scorers for Iowa Central, which fired at an even 50 percent (32-for-64) clip from the field. Harvey added five steals, while Dentlinger and Oja each tallied four thefts.

“We’ve been working on scoring in the post every day for the last three or four weeks, and it’s really paying off,” Carlson said. “I thought our depth wore them down as the game went on, too (ICCC used 11 different players compared to only eight for Southeastern).”

Up by as many as 10 points with just over three minutes left in the first half, the Tritons watched the scrappy Blackhawks (16-13, 7-8) reel off an 8-0 burst of their own entering the break, slicing the once seemingly commanding advantage to a single hoop (31-29).

Brittany Bryan’s triple at the 13:15 mark of the second frame actually gave the visitors a brief 43-39 edge, however, Iowa Central responded with a 13-2 counterpunch and never trailed again.

Bryan poured in a game-high 25 points for the Blackhawks, including 17 after the intermission. Bryan finished 7 of 11 outside the arc, with six of those makes coming down the stretch.

Pearl Paulo chipped in 15 points for the Blackhawks, while Jacey Hartweg netted 10. Southeastern, which was ranked as high as No. 4 (NJCAA Div. II) earlier this season, failed to avenge a previous 71-52 setback to the Tritons.

Defensively, Iowa Central forced 24 Blackhawk turnovers.

Putting its mini two-game victory streak on the line, the Tritons wrap up their regular season Saturday at winless Southwestern (0-29, 0-15). Tip is set for 1 p.m. in Creston.