By Mike Pilosof
Garden City, KS-Defense, defense, defense. It is something that first-year coach Charinee Mitchell has been preaching since arriving on campus back in May.
Saturday night, while their offense struggled to find their footing, it was a tenacious defense that ultimately was the deciding factor.
Abigail Green scored 11 points, pulled down 12 rebounds and dished out six assists while the Broncbusters held Pratt to just 27 percent shooting, as Garden City downed the Beavers 58-42 at Conestoga Arena.
"It's a win," Mitchell said afterwards. "But it was far from perfect. It wasn't pretty."
Offensively, Garden City (6-6, 4-5) had a hard time finding any rhythm, missing their first three shots. In fact, Jada Washington's 3-pointer at the 6:46 mark of the first period, was the Broncbusters first field goal.
"It was ugly, that's all there is to it," Mitchell said. "We are still not doing the things that we need to do. We are getting better, but we still have a long ways to go."
The Broncbusters eventually created separation after Kala Jones drilled a 15-footer and Washington nailed her second trey of the opening frame. Garden City led by nine after one.
"We didn't play great, but our energy was really good in this one," Mitchell said. "This is a hard time to play because of finals and because it's the end of the semester."
The Broncbusters grabbed their first double-digit advantage of the contest when Shekendra Tilley converted a layup that made it 25-14 with 3:58 to play in the first half. The sophomore followed that up with a baseline jumper over three Beaver defenders, Talia Roberts hit a shot from the elbow, and Garden City had a 29-18 advantage at the half despite shooting just 28 percent over the first 20 minutes.
"I say it every game, but we are still learning," Mitchell said. "These games worry me the most because you're playing a team that has struggled, and they have nothing to lose. We tried to hammer that fact home to our kids."
The only drama in the second half is when Pratt cut the lead to single digits on two occasions. But the Broncbusters answered with a 10-3 run to close the third, and led 42-29 going into the final quarter. Green added a 3-pointer in the first minute of the fourth, Roberts splashed home a jumper, and Washington nailed two freebies to spark a 7-0 that pushed the lead to 19. It eventually swelled to 25 with 2:00 to go.
"We are still looking to put a complete game together," Mitchell said. "That's our challenge right now. Now, we have to get these players ready for one more game, which will be a challenge in itself."
Washington scored 13 points and was 2-of-3 from distance for Garden City, who improved to 5-1 at home this season. Tilley recorded her first double-double with 12 points and 14 rebounds, and Roberts added nine points off the bench.
Tianna Tullis scored 11 points for Pratt, who lost their ninth straight game; their longest losing streak since 2009-2010. Dakota Smith chipped in 10.
Next up: Garden City at Otero-Tuesday, Dec. 12-6:15 p.m. pregame; 6:30 p.m. tip on 99.9 FM; westernkansasnews.com/kwkr and KWKR mobile app