GEORGETOWN, Texas -- The Southwestern University Pirates women's basketball team suffocated the University of Dallas Crusaders defensively, winning 65-22.
Cecily Woolfolk led the Pirates with 13 points on 6-for-11 shooting with four rebounds and Zhazze Brown had 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting with two steals. The tone, however, was set by Noel Pratts, whose impact went beyond her five points in 16 minutes.
Head Coach Greta Grothe placed Pratts on Dallas point guard Alexis Vera and tasked her sophomore forward with pressuring the length of the court on defense.
Pratts' size, quick feet, and long arms made life uncomfortable for Vera from the start, mirroring her every step and obscuring every passing lane. Frustration set in for the Dallas point guard, committing two quick offensive fouls trying to create room with her off arm where she couldn't with her dribble.
When the Crusaders managed to get into their sets, Pratts slithered, blitzed, or jumped through screens, blowing up plays or forcing the opposing big into an offensive foul trying to free their guards.
The rest of the Pirates followed suit, stopping the ball at the point of attack, jumping passing lanes and swarming to the ball while applying enough pressure to delay outlet passes, buying time to recover to cutters and shooters.
Offensively, Southwestern found freedom through its interior passing with Tori Carraway connecting with Cecily Woolfolk for two layups to start the game. The Pirates used strong side movement as a diversion to set up Woolfolk for a quick seal off-ball and easy buckets, scoring 10 in the first quarter.
The Pirates assisted on seven of their 10 first-quarter field goals and forced Dallas into more turnovers (10) than shot attempts (seven) in the quarter to take a 24-2 lead.
Southwestern remained locked in through the second quarter, forcing four more turnovers with four steals. The Pirates contested shot after shot, holding the Crusaders without a single made field goal in the first half until Gracie Williams drained a 3-pointer with 47 seconds remaining. Cydnee Lester responded immediately with a jumper to give the Pirates a 31-9 lead at halftime.
The defense remained sound in the third quarter, mixing some full-court pressure with an arms spread 2-3 zone, getting five steals and limiting Dallas to just 1-for-11 shooting. Zhazze Brown was a perfect 3-for-3 in the third for six points and Woolfolk had three offensive rebounds, extending possessions to push Southwestern to a 52-16 lead.
Grothe cleared the bench in the fourth quarter, giving valuable time to reserves and younger players. Ifeoma Mbue took advantage with two points, two offensive rebounds, and two steals in the quarter while first-year forward Taylor Carney hit a flurry of 3-pointers, scoring nine points on 3-for-3 shooting in the fourth.
The Pirates assisted on 15 of their 27 made field goals, forcing 22 turnovers--including 16 steals--for a 22-10 advantage in points off turnovers. Southwestern also outrebounded Dallas 50-25, led by Carraway's 12 rebounds in 17 minutes.
With the win, the Pirates improve to 7-10 this season and 6-2 in conference. Southwestern will host first-place Trinity University on Tuesday, Jan. 22 at 5:30 p.m.