CONCORDIA, Kansas — A dreadful first half put the Cloud County Community College women's basketball team in a hole it couldn't climb out of in Saturday's 84-58 home loss to Independence Community College.
The T-Birds (11-5 overall, 8-5 KJCCC) were limited to three made field goals in the first half (3-of-26), while the visiting Pirates (12-4 overall, 10-3 KJCCC) imposed their will in the paint as Independence shot 69 percent (22-of-32) in the first half en route to a 49-13 lead.
"It wasn't even really basketball. We weren't playing basketball the first half," said Cloud County head coach, Brett Erkenbrack. "It was embarrassing and unfortunate. I think we have some internal problems that we'll have to get corrected. But to do what we did in the first half, the game was pretty much over."
Independence's size posed problems for the T-Birds on each end of the floor as the Pirates finish with a 58-28 advantage in points in the paint and outrebounded Cloud County, 40-31.
"We knew going in that Independence's size was going to be a factor for us and we let that be quite a bit more of a factor than it should have been," Erkenbrack said.
The deficit grew to as many as 39 with 6:18 remaining in the third quarter before the T-Birds were able to start making headway.
Cloud County won the third quarter (27-20) and the fourth quarter (18-15), cutting Independence's lead down to 21 with 4:04 remaining on a pair of free throws from sophomore forward, Kennedy Gay.
"I thought in the second half we played a little more together, a little more connected on both ends," Erkenbrack said. "
Freshman forward Courtney Hammel provided the major lift off the bench as she finished with eight points, nine boards and five steals as she was able to disrupt the Pirates' passing lanes.
"She gave us really good effort on the boards. She was really active and played with a lot of heart and pride," said Erkenbrack, referring to Hammel. "When she was in the ball game, we had a lot of (the Pirates) high-low, inside stuff contained."
Fellow freshman Scout Frame, who became just the third Cloud County women's basketball player in school history to score 40 points in Wednesday's win over Allen County, led all Cloud players with 21 points on Saturday.
Freshman guard Camille Awa Baud, after a tough two-game stretch where she was limited to six combined points, broke out on Saturday with 19 points and four steals on 7-of-14 shooting.
The T-Birds will now look to put Saturday's loss behind them as they begin a tough four-game road trip on Wednesday, starting with Dodge City Community College. Cloud County will then have back-to-back matchups against No. 18 Hutchinson and No. 13 Seward County.
"This is a tough stretch we're heading in to, but (all the games) are big," Erkenbrack said. "We have to play well when we have the opportunities."