College of Southern Idaho isn’t the ideal opponent to try to play catch-up against.
North Idaho College found that out Saturday as second-ranked CSI made its first seven shots then repelled a handful of Cardinals’ runs to post an impressive 99-79 Scenic West Athletic Conference women’s basketball victory at Christianson Gym.
The Golden Eagles have a lightning-quick point guard in Nakeya Isabell, twin towers in 6-foot-6 Lenka Zimova and 6-5 Denisa Svarova, a SWAC player of the year candidate in guard Sidney Orndorff and a deep bench. Three non-starters reached double figures.
“We’ve played (teams ranked) 16, 17, 10 and now these guys,” NIC coach Chris Carlson said. “They’re the best team we’ve played. They’ve got the perimeter with the bigs and the point guard.”
NIC dropped to 8-5, 1-2 in the SWAC. CSI hiked its record to 15-0, 3-0.
While CSI was hitting its first seven shots, NIC connected on its first three, all 3-pointers by Jeni Boesel. But the Golden Eagles kept on finding holes in NIC’s defense and rang up 27 points in the first six minutes to build an 18-point lead.
“We played well,” CSI coach Randy Rogers said. “That was probably our toughest game this year. Nobody we’ve played plays as hard as North Idaho.”
NIC went to a half-court trap that temporarily slowed CSI’s offense, but only to a degree. After NIC pulled within 27-20, Svarova picked up a loose ball and converted to start a 15-5 CSI run. Perhaps the most impressive basket in that stretch was the 3-pointer by Zimova on a designed inbounds play.
Boesel poured in 22 points in the first half, but she also picked up three fouls. The rest of the Cards were 5 of 20 from the field. CSI shot 65.6 percent in the first half.
The second half was a replay of the first. CSI kept adding to its lead, only to have North Idaho rally back despite losing Boesel to fouls with 8:38 left. NIC was within nine points twice, at 56-47 and 80-71. Each time, CSI’s Delicia Jernigan hit 3-pointers.
“I can’t believe how many easy baskets we gave up and we usually we don’t do that,” Carlson said. “We adjusted for the big kids, but I’ll bet when I look at the film we gave up 40 points on easy baskets.”
The SWAC will be anything but easy. Rogers said Dixie is “far and away” the most talented team if it gets a University of Kansas transfer back in its lineup.