Coaching great shooters is not an exact science.
However, Cameron women’s coach Emma Andrews knows one basic rule: when you have a great shooter, don’t tell them to quit shooting because at some point that light is going to click on and when that happens, it’s a thing of beauty.
Thursday night, the Aggie women were leading Texas-Tyler for most of the game but nobody wearing the black and gold was comfortable with the 42-32 halftime that the Aggie Gym scoreboard showed.
The most surprising first-half stat was not so much the score but the 0-of-5 effort from long range by Ava Battese, the all-time CU leader.
However, all of that changed as she hit 7 of 9 after the break to lead the Aggies to an 89-66 victory as they won their fifth game out of their last six Lone Star Conference games.
The CU women are now 11-12 overall, 10-7 in the Lone Star and 4-3 in its division. Improving on those numbers will be tough Saturday as talented Texas A&M-Commerce comes to the Aggie Gym for a 2 p.m. contest.
Thursday Andrews saw her team launch 50 3-point shots and while that might be staggering to some CU fans, it’s not so much about quantity but quality.
“Our goal is to take the first best shot we get,” Andrews said. “If that’s a three, that’s fine. If it’s a layup, that’s OK. It’s all about taking shots that we think we can make.
“Tonight, Ava went 0 for 5 in the first half and then hits 7 of 10 after halftime. Really, for this group it’s more about getting defensive stops and rebounding. When we get our transition offense going we just play better; it opens up so many things.”
Clearly this game turned at halftime as the Aggie women pushed that 10-point lead to a 29-point cushion and it was the long ball that paved the way during that take-charge run.
Battese got her first trey to fall at the 7:14 mark of the third and less than 40 seconds later she had tacked on her second.
“I just didn’t feel comfortable in the first half,” the Elgin senior said. “It told myself at halftime to just try and get better looks. For me I like to spring into my shot and when I’m able to do that I seem to make them more often.”
With Battese getting the range down on her shots, the other Aggies seemed to take notice and from that point Stephanie Peterson joined the fun with a trey at the 6:00 mark and 45 seconds later Battese connected again to arrange a 56-39 score and that forced the Patriots to call time to try and slow the barrage.
It didn’t help as Maighan Hedge drilled another long bomb and Battese sliced the nets cleanly just 20 seconds later. She then got downright offensive, drilled a trey at the 3:47 mark and adding another one a minute later as the lead rose to 67-41 with two minutes remaining in the period.
The issue was decided when Karley Miller hit a 3-pointer at the 35-second mark and Logan Collyer beat the buzzer with a trey as the Aggies and their fans went wild as they raced to their bench to celebrate the 35-point quarter.
Despite the offensive explosion, Andrews was still pushing her team about defense.
“We still have to come up with big stops at big times,” she said. “We’re getting better in that phase and our goal is to keep working on consistency and how to play with a lead. That may sound strange to fans but it’s hard to play with a lead because you sometimes get to the point where you rush and don’t get the quality shots that we want.”
That was evident down the stretch as the Aggies hit just 41 percent from the field for the game, with that number being dragged down by 28.6 shooting in the fourth quarter.
Once again balance was present as Battese led the way with 21, Hedge added 16 and Peterson chipped in 11. The nine other Aggies suited up for the game got their names in the scorebook by producing points.