Tritons upset Kirkwood

Jam the Gym resulted in a statement victory for the Iowa Central women’s basketball team here Saturday afternoon.

Staying unbeaten at home this season, the 10th-ranked (NJCAA Div. II) Tritons (18-3 overall, 7-2 in the ICCAC) upset No. 3 Kirkwood by an 80-74 final at Hodges Fieldhouse.

Earlier this winter, Iowa Central dropped an 85-78 decision to the Eagles in Cedar Rapids. With the win, the Tritons have now prevailed in nine of their last 10 games.

“This brought us even now with (Kirkwood) in the league, and we didn’t want to waste a tremendous effort,” ICCC head coach Craig Carlson said. “I thought (Saturday) was the biggest Jam the Gym we’ve ever had, which surprised me with the weather the way it was. We thank (the fans) for all their support.”

Miliakere Koyamainavure, a 5-foot-8 sophomore guard, anchored the balanced Triton offensive charge with 22 points, six rebounds and two blocks. Koyamainavure shot 5 of 7 from the field and 12 of 18 at the free throw line.

“Koyamainavure has just been a beast for us,” said Carlson. “Defensively, she’s a nightmare for coaches to try and stop. I thought she really brought it up another notch (yesterday).”

St. Edmond graduate and High Point University signee Lydia Harvey (17), Katie Dentlinger (12), Chayil Henderson (11) and Babaye Oja (10) all reached double digits in scoring as well for Iowa Central. Harvey also collected eight rebounds, while Oja registered eight boards and six steals.

As a team, the Tritons finished 27 of 39 from the charity stripe.

“We’ve got four people averaging in double figures (offensively), which makes us pretty hard to guard,” Carlson said. “Our expectations were high at the beginning of the year, but we’re starting to trust each other a little more now. Coming off that tough (94-87) loss a week ago at (second-ranked) NIACC, I was proud of how our kids responded.”

After building an early 10-2 advantage, the Tritons fell behind by three points at the break on the heels of a 28-17 Kirkwood run. In the second half, Iowa Central trailed by as many as five before gaining control with a 20-9 spurt of its own. Down the stretch, the Eagles never drew closer than four.

“Our effort out of the chute was great,” said Carlson. “We knew if we could get to the half with four timeouts left that we were going to win the game. We even still had one in the bank at the end.

“I was happy with all of our possessions until there was about 1:14 left. We always want our kids to play fast and shoot the first open look they get, but there’s a time where you need to be more patient and work the clock.”

Danielle Woolfolk netted 15 points for Kirkwood (18-4, 7-2), which saw its six-game winning streak snapped. Tyra Polite (14) and Cassidy Clark (12) were the other top offensive performers for the Eagles.

Iowa Central was 7-for-31 outside the arc compared to 6 of 24 for Kirkwood.

The Tritons improved to 10-0 this season inside Hodges Fieldhouse, while the Eagles fell to 9-4 on the road.

Next action for Iowa Central is Wednesday at Marshalltown (15-6, 6-3). Tip is set for 5:30 p.m. The Tigers posted a 67-53 triumph at Ellsworth on Saturday.