Jennies overcome 14-point halftime deficit to stay unbeaten in MIAA play

Central Missouri’s Gigi McAtee takes a layup in the first half of the Jennies 70-66 come-from-behind win over Emporia State on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

WARRENSBURG — The Jennies saw a 15-point second half lead slip away in a loss in last season’s meeting with Emporia State.

On Wednesday, Jan. 29, it was the No. 22 Jennies who pulled off the come-from-behind win, taking down Emporia State (RV) 70-66 after overcoming a 14-point halftime deficit.

“That was a tough first half and the kids played very aggressively in the second half, that was good to see,” Central Missouri coach Dave Slifer said.

The Jennies did not have an answer for the Hornets zone defense or their sharpshooting in the opening half.

Emporia State knocked down seven 3-pointers in the first 20 minutes of action while the Jennies mustered just a single made deep ball on nine shots — Morgan VanHyfte hit a three at the end of the first quarter to keep UCM within five, 22-17.

With no outside attack, the Jennies managed just 13 points in the second quarter while

“In the first half, we didn’t put any ball pressure on,” Slifer said. “We caused three turnovers. We have three turnovers five on zero.”

The Jennies had just three points off turnovers in the first half, compared to the Hornets 11, leading to a 44-30 halftime lead for Emporia State.

Things changed after the halftime break, with UCM solving the Emporia State zone, starting with a 6-0 run to start the second half, and the Hornets going 2-11 from deep combined in the third and fourth quarter.

The Jennies outscored the Hornets 18-9 in the third quarter, getting within five, 53-48, on a pair of free throws by Elisha Davis.

“We just knew that we had to get a little bit more movement, and I thought in the third quarter we had great movement and everything was fine,” Slifer said. “Then in the fourth quarter I thought we were stagnant again and scoring was hard to come by.”

Davis tied the game up at the eight minute, 12 second mark of the fourth quarter with Jennies first made 3-pointer in 10 tries at 53-all.

Emporia State pulled back in front by five, 62-57, with 5:27 left.

A pair of unlikely 3-pointers pulled the Jennies in front. VanHyfte connected with end-of-shot-clock heave followed by Gigi McAtee’s 13th 3-pointer of the season to give UCM a 63-62 lead.

Megan Skaggs got in on the 3-point action with a third straight deep ball for the Jennies, giving UCM a 66-64 advantage.

Emporia State tied the game with 1:15 left at 66-66.

Skaggs, who finished with 11 points, put the Jennies in front with a basket in the paint with 34 seconds to play.

“Big shot Meg, that’s what she does,” Slifer said.

Morgan Fleming secured the game-winning stop, taking a charge with six seconds left to thwart Emporia State’s overtime bid. The senior took the charge after allowing the ball to bounce over her head.

“She was in trouble, but she made the right play,” Slifer said.

Fleming finished off the game with a pair of free throws to seal the Jennies 13th straight win and 10th win in MIAA play.

Slifer credited the win to assistant coach Mike Nicholson, who is away from the team following his father Ivan Nicholson’s passing.

“This one was for coach Nick,” Slifer said. “It killed him not to be here and our kids found a way (to get the win). They knew he wanted to be here. I felt like the kids rallied around that and said we aren’t going to lose this.”

Nija Collier finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds for her seventh double-double of the year.

Central Missouri will look for its 14th straight win at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 1, against Washburn.

The Ichabods (11-8, 6-6) are coming off a 66-49 win over Lincoln on Wednesday and have won three games in a row.

Sports Editor Randy Speer can be reached by emailing, by calling (660) 747-8123 or on Twitter at @RandySpeer_DSJ.

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