Phil Homeratha’s trepidation came true.
“I was afraid they’d get us in a halfcourt game,” the Haskell Indian Nations University coach said. “We’re just not that strong inside.”
Unbeaten William Woods negated HINU’s usually effective transition game and toppled the Fightin’ Indians, 62-57, in women’s basketball Saturday night at Coffin Complex.
The Owls (9-0) had so much depth inside that they had Maria Parker, Haskell’s best inside player, spending most of her time on the bench.
The 6-foot senior sat all but 51⁄2 minutes of the first half after picking up her second foul, then had to leave again with 11:43 remaining when she picked up No. 4.
“They double-teamed her,” Homeratha said, “and when she doesn’t stay in the game, it hurts us on both ends.”
During the five minutes she sat in the second half, the Owls went on an 18-7 spurt. Nevertheless, the score was knotted at 52 with less than four minutes remaining.
Then the Fulton, Mo., school scored on a stick-back and on a layup off a turnover, and the Indians couldn’t crawl any closer than a basket the rest of the way.
“We just couldn’t hold on at the end,” said Justina George, who led the Indians with 15 points and five steals.
Haskell led, 31-20, a couple of minutes into the second half before the Owls finally caught fire. All five of their three-point goals came in the second half.
“They’re just big, and they got the ball inside,” Homeratha said, “and they had good shooters on the wing.”
William Woods was ranked No. 26 in the NAIA Div. I preseason poll and are sure to climb higher when the first regular-season poll is released on Monday.
“We feel pretty bad about losing,” Homeratha said, “but we ran into a pretty decent team.”
Meanwhile, Haskell (12-3) is ranked No. 18 in the NAIA Div. II poll and won’t play again until Jan. 8.
“It’ll be a good break for us,” said George, who was honored at halftime for being named an NAIA Academic All-American last season. “Any break is good for us right now.”
Guard Christina Belone had 10 points off the bench for the Indians. Parker finished with six points and six boards while playing only about half the game.