By Mike Pilosof
Dodge City, KS-In 2017, games played away from home have been sort of a Rubik's cube for the Broncbuster women.
On Wednesday night, they finally solved the problem, and all it took was a rival 50 miles to the east.
Abigail Green led four Broncbusters in double figures with 16 points, Garden City shots lights out in the second half, and Charinee Mitchell's team earned their first road victory of the season with a 66-57 win over Dodge City at the Student Activities Center.
"I told our kids in the locker room: do not be happy with your performance tonight," Mitchell said afterwards. "We pulled this one out, but it was very ugly."
Entering the game, Dodge City had shot over 40 percent only two times in their first seven games. On Wednesday, Mitchell's team watched as the Conquistadors shot a season-best 48 percent from the floor while outscoring the Broncbusters 30-22 in the paint. Yet the common denominator was this: Garden City (5-4, 3-3) outscored Dodge City (4-4, 2-4) by 21 points behind the 3-point line in a nine-point victory. The Conquistadors finished 1-of-8 from beyond the arc.
"We did just enough to win this game," Mitchell said. "That's all there is to it. We have to get better."
Garden City looked like they would run away with this one early, scoring the first five points of the game. But Dodge City stormed back, and Makaela Ewing's layup with 22 seconds left in the first period, gave the Conquistadors a 12-9 edge. Talia Roberts though answered the bell for the Broncbusters, drilling a 3-pointer at the buzzer to knot the game at 12 after one.
"We have to keep our foot on the gas," Mitchell said. "We can't let teams back in the game."
As uneven as the Broncbusters played for a good portion of the first half, their domination on the glass paid huge dividends, especially in the final 30 seconds when, after Jada Washington stole the ball, both Abigail Green and Daz'Monique Johnson kept the possession alive with offensive rebounds. Then with time winding down, Johnson threw a strike to Washington, who nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give Garden City a 28-26 advantage at the break.
"I made sure to tell our players in the locker room that they were outworking Dodge City on the glass, and that they couldn't let up," Mitchell said.
Garden City never did, outrebounding the Conquistadors 41-29 by night's end. Everything else seemed to fix itself in the second half.
As cold as Mitchell's team was to start the game (they missed 28 of their first 38 shots), the Broncbusters were just as hot over the final 20 minutes. Garden City connected on 15-of-26 from the field (58 percent) in the second half, and after Roberts' steal setup Green's transition layup, the brown and gold had their largest lead of the night 55-38 with 7:57 to go in the fourth quarter. It was part of a 27-10 run that seemingly put the game out of reach.
"We had a lot of energy tonight," Mitchell said. "We kept believing, and we kept fighting."
Johnson enjoyed her most complete game of the season for Garden City, scoring 12 points, pulling down 17 rebounds and blocking three shots in 37 minutes. She was 4-of-7 from the field and 4-of-5 from the line. Roberts chipped in 12 points, six assists and five steals while Washington netted 12.
Ewing scored 16 points for Dodge City, who lost for the second time in their last three games. The Conquistadors had 20 turnovers, their fourth straight contest with 20 or more.
Next up: Garden City vs. Hutchinson-Saturday, Dec. 2-5:45 p.m. pregame; 6 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app