JASON FARMER NEWS-SUN
November 2, 2018
Hobbs graduate Amaya Lewis, now playing for New Mexico Junior College, drives down the court after recording her first rebound and scores her first bucket, to give the Lady Thunderbirds a 16-0 lead over Northern Oklahoma College-Enid in Caster Activity Center. NMJC won 87-48 Thursday night.
That's what the New Mexico Junior College women's basketball team did Thursday night in its season opener to Northern Oklahoma College-Enid. The Lady Thunderbirds opened the game with a 19-0 run and went on to dominate the Lady Jets in an 87-46 win in Caster Activity Center.
The game was so one-sided that with 3:36 left in the game, NMJC had doubled up Northern Oklahoma, leading 82-41. NMJC's largest lead of the game was 43 points with 3:03 left on the clock.
While the win was a big one, and a lopsided one, NMJC women's basketball coach Drew Sanders said his team needed to play a cleaner game as the No. 1 ranked team in NJCAA.
"I think (the win) has to be cleaner," the coach said. "(The score) is distorted because they are missing some players, but a No. 1 team has to play cleaner, cut the turnovers down, hit a bunch of the bunnies, and adjust to the officiating better."
The Lady T-Birds buitl up a 19-0 lead in the first quarter and the Lady Jets didn't score until 1:57 remained in the opening quarter. Northern Oklahoma then quickly rattled off eight points over the next minute before NMJC closed out the first quarter with a 24-10 lead.
Play was close in the second quarter, but the Lady T-Birds were still able to extend their lead by two points as NMJC outscored Northern Oklahoma 20-18, taking a 44-28 lead into the break.
What kept the game close in the second quarter was the fouls calls. NMJC was called for 16 fouls in the first half while Northern Oklahoma had just six. The difference in foul calls resulted in most of the Lady Jets' first half points coming from the charity stripe. Northern Oklahoma was 14-of-18 from the free throw line.
"Part of that is because we are more aggressive," Sanders said. "But, I felt like it got a little ticky-tacky when we got the big lead. … But, you have also got to adjust quicker than we adjusted."
Hobbs graduate Amaya Lewis entered the game for the first time with 4:46 left in the first quarter. She recorded her first college rebound with 3:34 left and then quickly drove down the court to score her first bucket with 3:29 left in the opening quarter.
"That gave me some momentum and made the nervousness go way," Lewis said. "It was what I needed to do."
By halftime, Lewis had seven points, three rebounds, two assists, and one steal. She finished the game tied for the game-high with 12 points, while coming in off the bench. Lewis also finished with four rebounds, five assists, and two steals.
"It means a lot, not just for me, but for my team," the Hobbs graduate said. "I think this whole night just opened everyone's eyes and let us know who can do what."
Sanders was pleased with Lewis' debut.
"Amaya is a natural athlete and very, very quick," the Lady T-Birds coach said. "She actually has a very good basketball IQ and we are converting her to a point guard. In high school she was playing kind of a point-forward. I wanted her at point guard because of her downhill ability and her ability to go downhill and attack."
The Lady T-Birds pulled away quickly in the second half, outscoring the Lady Jets 23-8 in the third quarter and 20-12 over the final 10 minutes of play.
The one thing Sanders was unhappy about, other than all the fouls, was the 17 turnovers NMJC finished with. After fouling 16 times in the first half, NMJC did cut down on the fouls, drawing only six in the second half.
"We turned the ball over way too much," Sanders said. "Between the turnovers, and putting them on the line, that kind of let them get a little momentum and shorten the (second quarter) lead up."
Every player on the roster scored for the Lady T-Birds in the season-opening win. New Mexico Junior College had six players finish the night in double figure scoring.
"We knew that was going to happen before we even came out," Lewis said. "We are all a threat. If you can stop one of us, there is always someone else who is going to step up."
Joining Lewis in leading all scorers was Laci Hawthorne who also had 12 points, and also came off the bench. Starters Sydnee Wynn and Eternati Willock each had double-doubles for the Lady T-Birds. Wynn had 14 rebounds and 11 points while Willock grabbed 10 boards and scored 10. Hawthorne was one rebound shy of a double-double. Jurnee President had 11 points and Thamires Andrade chipped in 10.
The Lady T-Birds will be back on the court tonight when they take on Central Arizona. Game time is set for 6 p.m. at Caster Activity Center.
1 2 3 4 F No. OK-Enid10 18 8 12 48 NMJC 24 20 23 20 87