EAST PEORIA — The Illinois Central College women's basketball team put some "woah" in the "giddy-up" of run-and-gun North Iowa Area Community College on Friday.
Fifth-ranked ICC (11-2) upset the second-ranked Trojans, 66-62, at Lorene Ramsey Gymnasium to reach the title game of the 37th Cougar Holiday Tournament. The Cougars will face Kirkwood at 4 p.m. Saturday for the tournament championship.
ICC jumped out to an early 25-12 lead after one quarter, but had to hold off a late rally by NIACC (13-2), which closed to within 57-56 with 3:07 left in the game.
Sophomore Bailey Larsen (15 points) scored the final five points for the Cougars, hitting an open 3-pointer from the top of the key at the 1:01 mark, and then going 2-for-2 from the free-throw line with 9.3 seconds left to seal the win.
"This was a great game for her," ICC coach Karrie Redeker said of Larsen. "She likes this type of setting, and she wanted to be at the free throw line at the end of the game.
"We haven't had a lot of games where it's hinged on one possession, so this was great for us. It was just a good team win."
The Cougars held NIACC to a 7-of-30 effort on 3-pointers, a day after the Trojans went 22-for-61 on treys in a 122-58 decision over Kalamazoo Valley.
NIACC went into the game with a 101.5 scoring average, taking an average of 87 shots and 45 3-pointers a game.
In the season opener, the Trojans beat the Cougars 99-82 at home. But in the rematch, NIACC shot just 31 percent from the floor, going 22-for-71 overall.
"It was kind of a clash of two styles, because we don't shoot a ton of 3s," Redeker said. "They were just a little bit off, and our rebounding advantage (65-33) was huge.
"They are a very solid team that puts up a lot of points, but I think that we take pride in our defense. Our plan was to transition to the 3-point line, and for the most part, our kids got back and got out on their shooters. I don't think they had too many open looks."
The rebounding by Kellyn Maynard (11 boards, six on offense) and Abby Coates (12 and four) helped offset the ICC struggles on free throws (26-of-43) and 30 turnovers.
ICC took a 37-29 lead at halftime, limiting the Trojans to nine first-half baskets.
"We weren't very good, and they were really good," NIACC coach Todd Ciochetto said. "Our girls are talented, and they thought it was going to be easy.
"And we just couldn't make our 3-pointers. It had nothing to do with (the Cougars), it was us. We were taking the wrong ones, and we didn't execute what we wanted to execute tonight."
The Trojans made some runs in the fourth. But after a driving layup by Kelsie Willert (15 points) pulled them to within 57-56, the Cougars went 4-for-6 from the stripe, and Maynard rebounded one of the misses to hold off the rally.
Madison Faulkner led the Cougars with 18 points, while Uu Longs scored 18 for the Trojans.
Johnny Campos can be reached at 686-3214 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @JohnnyCampos59.