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Tough defense not enough for Lady Devils

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

MASON CITY, Iowa — The Riverland women held North Iowa Area Community College to a season-low point total on Tuesday night, but it wasn’t enough to get a win.

Despite their hard-nosed defensive effort, the Lady Blue Devils of Riverland lost 55-43 in non-conference basketball on the road. The setback leaves the Lady Devils still in search of their first win on the season.

Anna Havumaki and Tracee Crowley led the way for Riverland with 10 points each on the night. Crowley and Nikki Lehnertz each hit a three-pointer for the visitors. Tibisa Thor added four assists in the loss.

With the physical nature of the game down low in the paint, Havumaki eventually succumbed to foul trouble in the second half. The Riverland center fouled out in the final minutes as NIACC pulled out to a double-digit lead.

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"They had some horses with a couple of strong players in the middle, but defensively our kids played a great game," Riverland coach Suzy Hebrink said. "It was very physical inside and we had a couple of players come out of the game with a bloody nose. We stayed with them because of our defense, but we just couldn’t get many shots off."

In the slowed-down approach taken by the Lady Devils, they managed to keep the game close throughout the first half and were only down 24-18 at halftime.

The home team began to pull away in the second half due to the inside presence of center Saira Morgan, who scored a game-high 15 points.

Riverland’s gritty defensive effort was evident in the shooting statistics as NIACC made only 17 of 65 shot attempts on the night. But the tall players inside for NIACC took a toll on the Riverland offense. The Lady Devils made just 12 of 37 shot attempts.

"They’re a very tough team, but we’re not offensively aggressive enough right now and can’t put the ball through the hoop," Hebrink said. "We forced them into 20 turnovers, and it was pretty even in rebounds. We just need to find some consistency on offense."

Riverland (0-5) is done for the rest of this month. The Lady Devils return to the court on Dec. 1 at home against Itasca Community College.

RIVERLAND (43)

Anna Havumaki 10, Tracee Crowley 10, Kim Bestul 8, Laura Amundson 7, Tibisa Thor 5, Nikki Lehnertz 3.

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NIACC (55)

Saira Morgan 15, Mattie Biggs 10, Katie Borman 5, Kara Cobb 4, Anna Wood 6, Jena Howard 6, Jordan Stiles 1, Ashton Cicitti 5, Katie Fendring 3.

Halftime score — NIACC 24, Riverland 18.

Three-pointers — Riverland 2 (Crowley 1, Lehnertz 1). NIACC 3 (Wood 2, Cicitti 1).

Free throws — Riverland 18-28, NIACC 18-30.

Fouled out — RIV, Havumaki. NIACC, Borman.

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