Coming into their second game of the Leah Whittaker Memorial Classic at IWU on Saturday evening, the Taylor Trojans were undefeated in their last 21 regular season games.
In fact, it’s been nearly a year since the Trojans last lost a regular season – a 73-68 overtime loss to the Marian University Knights back on November 28, 2018.
On Saturday, Taylor increased their unbeaten streak to 22 games, using a 27-point second quarter, a strong defensive effort, and efficient shooting at the free throw line to defeat the IU Kokomo Cougars 78-61.
The game was close in the first quarter. IUK shot 8-for-16 from the floor, and the Trojans did not take their first lead of the game, 22-20, until their final shot of the period.
But after that, the Trojans dominated.
Taylor knocked down four of their first seven shots, beginning the second stanza on a 16-8 run to take a double-digit lead they would relinquish.
In the second quarter, the Taylor defense forced nine turnovers, keeping the Cougars’ offense off balance, while the offense scored at an efficient rate.
“We were concerned at the beginning of the game,” Taylor Head Coach Jody Martinez said. “We knew [about] their athleticism. Our goal was to wear them out with the press to hopefully build a bigger lead in the second quarter, which [did] happen.”
Along with scoring 27 points, the Trojans shot 66.7 percent from the floor in the quarter (six-of-nine), which included a four-of-seven clip from beyond the arc. Furthermore, the Trojans regularly went to the foul line in the opening two quarters, exploiting IUK’s much smaller lineup inside. Of their 22 attempts, the Trojans made 19 of them.
[Coach Shelwick] does a good job at IU Kokomo – they’re just small,” Martinez said. “And so teams are going to try to [go to the hoop.] They’re athletic, so we tried to utilize a mismatch, and I felt we did a good job on that.”
After taking a 49-34 lead at the break, the Trojans kept the pedal down the rest of the way. In the third quarter, Taylor increased their lead to as many as 19 points, and even after IUK made a little 6-0 run to cut the lead to 12, the Trojans did not lose their composure, ending the stanza on a 5-1 run.
The Cougars failed to get closer after that, as the Trojans shot five-for-eight in the final 10 minutes and cruising to a 17-point triumph.
Becca Buchs continued her incredible start to the 2019-2020 season, scoring 25 points on six made threes along with seven free throws. In the first five games of the season, Buchs is shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc.
Her sister, Abby, was equally as impressive, finishing with 14 points on four-of-five shooting and five-of-six from the charity stripe together with five rebounds and three steals.
Haley Stratman collected 12 points, including a pair of triples, while Sydney Huffman added eight points, five assists, and two steals.
“[Becca] did a good job of executing. I thought Syd Huffman did a great job of running the floor today and scoring early for us. [Haley] Stratman had a good weekend,” Martinez said. “If we continue hitting those outside shots, that’s hard to guard. Hopefully, our penetration can continue to get better.
“Overall, it was a good week.”
As a team, the Trojans shot 21-of-42 from the field, nine-of-25 from three-point range, and 27-of-34 from the charity stripe.