The 25th-ranked Western Nebraska Community College women’s basketball team put five players in double figures in rolling past the Nebraska All-stars 107-50 in the home-opener Tuesday at Cougar Palace.
Melisa Kadic led the Cougar attack with 25 points with three 3-pointers. Freshman Merle Wiehl pitched in 19 points and sophomore Olivia Wiberg popped in 16 points, including four treys. One of Wiberg’s trey was a shot at the buzzer from about 22 feet out in the second half.
Wiberg said the team started slow and then realized they had to pick it up. WNCC only led the All-stars 17-14 in the first half.
“I think we came out a little bit slower and we came out not knowing what we were dealing with,” Wiberg said. “Then we came out better. I know from Saturday’s game, we wanted to work better as a team and developing habits as a team. I think that really picked up later in the game and we played better.”
The Nebraska All-stars never stopped playing. In fact, they were battling all night long. The difference was the All-stars just couldn’t shots to fall. Wiberg said she appreciated the All-stars coming out.
“We really appreciate that we got to have this game because it was important for us to get out there and play. We have been talking a lot about effort, effort, effort no matter the situation or adversity we are facing. We need to be giving 110 percent effort always.”
Wiberg said they knew it wasn’t going to be easy.
“They really brought it tonight and we knew this was not going to be a walk in the park,” she said. “We knew some of them were former players and we knew that any one of them could bring something tonight. We had to be ready for whatever.”
WNCC held a slim 21-17 lead late in the first half before going on a 19-0 run spanning the final minutes of the first quarter and first, four minutes of the second for a 40-17 lead. WNCC went on lead 62-24 after Anastacia Johnson hit a bucket at the buzzer.
WNCC kept the offence going in the third quarter as they pushed the lead to 82-31 on back-to-back treys by Kadic and Wiberg. The Cougars led 86-39 after three. WNCC went over the century mark with 5:33 to play in the fourth on a Giovanna Silva bucket to make it 101-42.
The Cougars also received 14 points from Avery and 12 from Silva, while Sophie Agorakis and Johnson each had eight points.
The All-stars were led by the two former Cougars. Ashley (Stevens) Fenning tallied 16 points, including going 7-of-9 from the free throw line, while Jessica Aratani finished with nine points.
WNCC, 2-1 on the young season, will hit the road this weekend for a pair of games in Council Bluffs, Iowa, against ranked opponents. WNCC will take on No. 18 (Division I) Iowa Western Community College on Friday before taking on No. 2 (Division II) Johnson County Community College on Saturday. WNCC faced these same two teams a year ago and fell on the road.
Wiberg said these are big games and it will be good tests for the Cougars.
“We definitely have tough competition ahead this weekend,” Wiberg said. “It is important that we take these good habits and effort and work together as a team because it is not one man’s job. We, for sure, need to bring our effort and energy.”
Nebraska All-Stars 17 7 15 11 – 50
WNCC (2-1) 27 35 24 21 – 107
Havannah Newens 5, Ashley Guzman 8, Chalsey Grentz 6, Jessica Bruce 2, Ashley Fenning 16, Jessica Aratani 9, Stephanie Perez 4.
Melisa Kadic 25, Meryle Wiehl 19, Jaleesa Avery 14, Sophie Agorakis 8, Olivia Wiberg 16, Josie Perez 5, Anastacia Johnson 8, Giovanna Silva 12.