Women’s basketball team runs over UMKC

After a stifling defensive performance against Southern Utah on Thursday, the Oakland University women’s basketball team changed gears and used a high-powered offensive onslaught to rout the UMKC Kangaroos 75-50.

“(The team) played really solid for both halves, and they played really unselfishly. I was very excited about how we had 33 baskets and 29 were assisted on,” head coach Beckie Francis said. “Especially in conference play, we’ve only had two games but I like how in both games, we’ve played four good halves. I like the consistency.”

Sophomore Bethany Watterworth led OU with 21 points, four rebounds, and five assists. Senior Anna Patritto added 13 points, five assists and four rebounds.

While the offense was firing on all cylinders, the OU defense was equally impressive. With Saturday’s effort, Oakland has held their last four opponents under 30% shooting in the first half and under 50 points total.

“We work really hard at (defense), we’ll praise them at practice. We have to work hard to maintain that and keep getting better,” Francis added. “This team is competitive … they value their minutes, and they want to win. They worked hard in the summer and now they just want to show their stuff.”

Hustling on defense and pressuring the young Kangaroos team, the Golden Grizzlies held UMKC to 19-of-59 shooting in addition to forcing 18 turnovers. The defense also had nine steals and seven blocks, including a huge rejection by freshman Zakiya Minifee with eight minutes left in the second half.

Oakland ran out to a 19-6 lead just 10 minutes into the first half and never looked back. The Grizzlies increased that lead to 34-15 at half time.

“That’s the goal of the team. This is the first time we’ve played this conference opponent and we wanted to make sure we were intense for every defensive possession,” Francis said. “We don’t need to worry about the offense, it will take care of itself.”

The team made 15 of their first 24 shots for a blistering 62.5 percent shooting percentage from the field in the first half, with Watterworth going 6-for-6 and junior Sharise Calhoun shooting 4-for-6. Watterworth ended the game shooting 9-for-9 from the floor.

“It was just lights out tonight,” Watterworth said. “I just came into the game confident and as a team, the other players were shooting really well. I guess it was one of those nights where everyone was hitting shots. We took advantage of that and we were unselfish.”

Somehow, the Golden Grizzlies shot an even better percentage in the second half, going 18-for-24 from the field for 75%.

With a total of 29 assists for the game on 33 field goals, the team performed a clinic on running the motion offense. Four players had at least five assists; Calhoun lead the team with six helpers.

“That’s the great thing about the motion offense, we’re constantly moving. We had 29 assists on 33 baskets, and that’s just great. It’s great that we’re screening well but also hitting the open player for the shot,” Calhoun said. “Everyone was taking great shots, so it’s a great team effort.”

Watterworth, being on the receiving end of so many of the assists, agreed with her teammate.

“It just shows our unselfishness and patience, being able to use a majority of the shot clock and then getting a good shot,” the forward said.

UMKC was led by Janee Williams and Peyton Adamson, who both had nine points. No UMKC players scored in double-digits.

With the win, the women’s team now has a 12-1 record against the Kangaroos at the O’Rena, including the last 11 meetings.

Oakland will get a chance to extend their season-long three-game winning streak on Wednesday, Nov. 8 against the Illinois Fighting Illini, led by sophomore guard Karisma Penn. That game will start at 6:30 p.m. in The O’Rena.