Dixon scores 63 in loss

BY WILL MCDAVID | JULY 03, 2014 5:00 AM

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Wednesday was the first time Randy Larson’s first two draft picks — Melissa Dixon and Carly Mohns — shared the court. But that, even with 63 points from Dixon, wasn’t enough to get a win over Joe Johnston’s squad, which won 98-97.

Dixon and Company got out to a hot start, converting on early 3-point attempts and using stifling team defense to swarm Johnston’s team’s star center Bethany Doolittle. By making Johnston’s top offensive weapon a defensive focus, Larson’s group was able to crowd the paint and force Doolittle to the perimeter for a series of contested jump shots.

With the initial success of Larson’s plan, Johnson made timely coaching adjustments, transitioning his center from the role of primary scorer to offensive fulcrum. By acting as a decoy and distributor, Doolittle enabled her squad to find other sources of offense, including St. Ambrose’s Sydney Greiner and Maryville’s Olyssa Oney, a strategy that helped the team secure an 56-46 halftime lead.

“I think we passed the ball a lot,” Greiner said, “Whenever [Doolittle] was double-teamed and didn’t have the shot, she found open people every single time. We played so well together as a team.”

With Johnston’s team firing on all cylinders, Larson’s squad furiously fought to close the gap. Behind a career night from Dixon, the squad steadily chipped away at the deficit, bringing it to within a score. However, despite their best efforts, a desperation shot in the game’s closing seconds caromed off the rim, allowing Johnston’s team to escape with the win.

Brendan Unkrich’s team 92, Pat McCool’s team 71

Billed as a battle of the unbeatens, Unkrich’s group wasted little time showing onlookers who Game Time’s best team was. Ally Disterhoft and Chase Coley combined for 27 first-half points (finishing with 38 and 17 respectively), and with McCool’s usually potent offense converting only four of its 17 3-point field goals, the game quickly got out of hand.

Ahead by double digits in the first half, Unkrich’s group extended its lead in the second, winning the game by 21 points. After handing McCool’s squad its first loss, Unkrich and company stand alone as the league’s only undefeated team.

“We have some great players,” Unkrich said, “Good players make it easy to coach. We score more points than the opponents. That’s what it comes down to.”

Clark Anderson’s team 91, Brian Joens 76

After an 0-2 start in Game Time play, Iowa’s Samantha Logic and former North Dakota State player Ali Browning proved that Anderson’s team was still a force to be reckoned with. In its victory over Joens’ squad, Anderson’s group shrugged off its early season struggles and established its duo as one of the league’s best inside-outside combinations.

“It’s just instinct,” Browning said about her on-court chemistry with Logic. “It’s guard-post. I love the guards because they pass me the ball, and I give her the ball back if I’m not open. We work well together.”

While Claire Till, who scored 26 points, and Nicole Smith (17 points) gave admirable performances in defeat, they were ultimately outdone by Browning and Logic. In game that saw two teammates completely in sync, it seems only fitting that both players registered 23 points.

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