The push for the NCC championship continued on Thursday for the Marion Lady Giants.
In their first of a string of incredibly important conference games, the Giants got off to a great start, using their tried and true formula – aggressive pressure defense and getting the ball to RaShaya Kyle– to come away with a 66-46 victory over the Muncie Central Bearcats.
Marion jumped to a 17-9 lead after the first quarter of play, before taking control of the game in the second, outscoring the Bearcats 19-7 to put the contest out of reach.
The Giants kept the pedal to the metal in the second half, leading 54-22 after the third quarter before cruising to the 20-point victory.
Marion’s defense was the biggest factor in their win, forcing multiple Muncie Central turnovers in the half court, which led to several easy baskets in transition. Offensively, Kyle was clicking on all cylinders, and the Bearcats were unable to slow her down.
“We were solid in our three-quarters court [press], and we were solid in our 3-2,” Marion Head Coach Lawrence Jordan said. “They knocked down a couple of threes in the first quarter, but the defense was solid all the way around. RaShaya established herself inside, and was a force for us.”
Kyle finished with 21 points to lead the Giants, while Ellie Vermilion, who was injured in the Mississinewa contest earlier in the week, did not miss a beat, scoring 17.
“I rested her yesterday, [but] she came out ready to go tonight,” Jordan said. “She knocked down a couple of shots and got herself going, and as always, she played hard on defense, got some easy baskets, and knocked down her free throws.”
With another huge conference battle on the horizon against Logansport, Jordan and the Giants are looking to keep up the momentum.
“I know they’ve got a knock down shooter…so we need to make sure where she’s at at all times and try to establish ourselves,” Jordan said. “And of course, with everyone [we do,] we will try to get it started with the defense. If we can knock this next step out, it will set up a nice showdown next Friday night in Lafayette.”