SHERIDAN — The Christmas celebrations and the New Year’s resolutions didn’t solve the issues that have plagued the Sheridan College women’s basketball team. The Lady Generals still made the same mental errors, and it cost them Saturday inside the Bruce Hoffman Golden Dome.
SC fell to Northeastern Junior College 75-71, dropping to 10-5 on the season.
“It was mental errors, big mental errors,” SC head coach Ryan Davis said. “… We’ve been doing this all year, and it just comes in practice. We do the same sorts of things in practice and expect it to be different in a game, and that’s not how it works. That’s true with anything in life.”
The Lady Generals didn’t communicate effectively enough on defensive rotations, turned the ball over 21 times, yielded 14 offensive rebounds and sent the Lady Plainsmen to the free-throw line 35 times. Sheridan is 15 games deep, meaning these aforementioned problems may persist for the entire season.
With Region IX play beginning Wednesday, Davis hopes his team can improve in these areas.
“With this team, I really believe we can do it,” Davis said. “… If we can just inch by inch get a little bit better and just be solid on the offensive and defensive end, we are a good team, and it’s hard to stop us. We just need to be a little more solid, and I think we can do it, but time will tell.”
One aspect that should help in that process is the return of Tala Tuisavura. She missed the last 10 games with a knee injury and her return to the lineup — which should happen in the next week or so — will steady the backcourt more and help take pressure off Noora Parttimaa and Aloma Solovi.
Parttimaa — who has led the Lady Generals all season — only tallied eight points Saturday, which marked the fifth time she’s failed to score in double figures this season. Parttimaa wasn’t the only player to struggle. Fellow starter Kassie Hoyer didn’t play as effectively as she’s capable of, only scoring six points.
Lani Taliauli and Sara Oca picked up some of that slack. Taliauli recorded her first career double-double with 15 points and 14 rebounds, while Oca poured in a career high 13 points off the bench.
“It’s nice to see that there’s other people that can have a game where you go, ‘Where was that game? Where did that game come from?’” Davis said. “When you have a couple people step up like that, it’s really nice.”
Taliauli has come on strong lately, averaging 12.4 points per contest her last five games. Oca had never scored more than seven points in any one game this season.
“I think going back home got my confidence back,” Oca said. “I have had rough moments during this past semester, but I just I keep coming and working hard.”
Oca hails from Spain and it took her time to adjust to the new style of play in the states. Davis hopes Oca can provide a similar spark off the bench moving forward.
“This is something to build off of, and I’ll tell her, ‘This is the corner you needed to turn,’” Davis said. “I really believe in Sara’s abilities. I just have to instill that confidence in her.”
Oca entered Saturday’s game late in the first period — the Lady Generals trailed 25-16 after one quarter — and did most of her damage during the game’s second 10 minutes. She knocked down 10 points and helped Sheridan pull to within 40-39 at the break.
The Lady Plainsmen scored 12 of the first 16 points of the third period to build a nine-point lead at 52-43. Northeastern JC kept its distance as its lead never shrank below five points en route to a 64-57 lead ahead of the fourth quarter.
The Lady Generals held the Lady Plainsmen scoreless for nearly four minutes in the fourth quarter to pull within four at 68-64. SC drew closer, making it 72-71 with 14 seconds to play on a bucket from Solovi — who finished with 13 points. But Northeastern JC made three of its final four free throws and earned a key defensive stop with under 10 seconds to play to walk away with the victory.
The Lady Generals travel to Eastern Wyoming College Wednesday.
Northeastern JC….25 15 14 11 — 75
Sheridan College…16 23 18 14 — 71
Northeastern JC — Davis 18; Burrell 15; Knudson 11; Ratnikava 9; Fulwylie 7; Rodriguez 6; Turner 5; Regennitter 2; Serrato 2
Sheridan College — Taliauli 15; Oca 13; Solovi 13; Green 8; Parttimaa 8; Walker 6; Hoyer 6; Colas 2
Northeastern JC 42 (Turner 9); Sheridan College 42 (Taliauli 14)
Northeastern JC 5 (Ratnikava 2); Sheridan College 14 (Solovi 4)