JOHNSTOWN - The Fulton-Montgomery Community College Lady Raiders led the Mohawk Valley Community College Lady Hawks by 20 points after nine minutes of action before picking up their sixth straight win 63-49 Sunday at the Raider's Den.
The victory was FMCC's 14th in their last 15 outings and guaranteed the Lady Raiders (17-3 overall, 11-1 MVC) at least a share of the Mountain Valley Conference title.
FMCC's Kassandra Flowers gained control of the opening tip and thrust the ball ahead to Monae Abrams for a quick layup, sparking a 22-2 scoring run to open the game. Down 9-0, MVCC's (15-8 overall, 6-4 MVC) Shelbey Kralik hit two free throws before FMCC scored 13 unanswered points to take a 22-2 lead.
Fulton-Montgomery Community College’s Monae Abrams (24) drives to the hoop defended by Mohawk Valley Community College’s Shaakira Harewood (13) and Elizabeth Young (33) Sunday at Fulton-Montgomery Community College. (The Leader-Herald/Shaun Anich)
The Lady Raiders were particularly adept from long range in the first half. Stephanie Rice hit two threes as part of the scoring run, while Flowers and Kendra Jordan added one apiece. Soon after Shaakira Harewood converted the Lady Hawks' first field goal of the game with 10:12 remaining in the frame, Veronica Chea connected from downtown to give FMCC their largest lead of the game at 29-5. The Lady Raiders forced 12 turnovers in the half, stunting MVCC's offensive output early and often.
"We came out prepared, ready to get after people defensively and that's what's going to win us games," said FMCC head coach Kevin Jones. "That's always a big game for us. Mohawk Valley has been a rivalry since I started coaching here."
The Lady Hawks, who fell to FMCC by just three points at home on Jan. 11, didn't lie down after the early throttling. Following Chea's three-pointer, MVCC went on an 11-2 run led by Kralik and LaQuasia Berry. The Lady Raiders took a 15-point lead into halftime but allowed MVCC to crawl back into the game as the second 20 minutes ticked away.
Sana Hafeez scored the first eight points of the half for MVCC, five of which were unanswered to start the frame and pulled the Lady Hawks within 10. Rice hit her third triple of the game for FMCC to push the lead back to double-digits, but MVCC stifled the Lady Raiders offensively in the middle portion of the half. Taking advantage of a series of turnovers, MVCC embarked on a 13-3 run to cut the Lady Raiders' lead to 44-38.
"That middle stretch there was all about turnovers," Jones said. "They were running that little half-court trap and we dribbled into it probably 10 times. We'll figure it out, move forward from there, and put something in to hopefully work against it."
Sherice Gayle spent a good portion of the second half on the bench for FMCC due to foul trouble, taking away a dominant low-post presence. Instead, Erica Redwood stepped up to aid Abrams in crashing the boards. Redwood pulled down 13 rebounds off the bench to go along with 14 for Abrams.
"I always tell the kids it's not always about the box score and scoring," said Jones. "Thirteen rebounds was huge for us today. If she doesn't do that for us today we might lose."
After allowing MVCC to pull within six, FMCC found a rhythm to their offense and extended their lead. Abrams made three late layups to finish with a game-high 17, the third of which gave FMCC another 15-point lead.
Rice also finished in double-figures with 14 points for the Lady Raiders. Gayle tallied an efficient seven points and nine rebounds. For the Lady Hawks, Berry scored a team-high 12 points while Shakirra Smith grabbed a team-high eight boards.
The Lady Raiders will be on the road for their final two regular season games. Their next action will come on Wednesday at North Country Community College.
Fulton-Montgomery Community College 63,
Mohawk Valley Community College 49
Abrams 7-3-17, Rice 4-3-14, Flowers 2-3-8, Gayle 1-5-7, Chea 2-1-6, Woney 1-2-4, Jordan 1-0-3, Er. Redwood 0-2-2, Ev. Redwood 1-0-2. Totals 19-19-63.
Berry 4-4-12, Hafeez 3-5-11, Kralik 2-5-10, Fauvelle 3-2-8, Way 1-2-4, Harewood 1-0-2, Young 0-2-2. Totals 14-20-49.
3-point-goals: FMCC 6 (Rice 3, Jordan, Flowers, Chea); MVCC 1 (Kralik)
Halftime: 35-20, Fulton-Montgomery.