The hard work is paying off so far. Following a long offseason, the Tigers entered the season with high spirits and a new team motto: “Together Tigers.” During their first game of the season this past Tuesday night at Sam’s Gym, they smoked McMurray University 72-53. They started the game hot, outscoring the Warhawks 42-25 and entering halftime poised and confident.
The offensive output did not slow in the second half, but McMurray came out with a chip on their shoulder and fought hard. The game’s intensity took a step up in the second half, as an extra push of effort seemed to be built into each possession. Although the Tiger lead would extend to almost 20 points as time grew short, the level of focus from both squads did not waver. Head Coach Cameron Hill and his team were able to maintain focus for the entire game.
“We have very competitive practices every sngle day and the enthusiasm for playing is high always. I think it’s great. You find yourself in a situation like this as a coach and you’re always proud that your girls are able to get control of the game. We were also able to give a chance to other girls to get experience. Later on in the season that is going to become valuable. You never know what is going to happen later on in the season,” Hill said.
Simply put, the Tigers were able to execute. They capitalized off the Warhawks’ mistakes and turnovers, and the lead continued to grow steadily until the final buzzer. Defensively, the Tigers played aggressively, racking up steals and applying pressure. One of the key players in this first home win was preseason All-American Monica Holguin. She scored 17 points and had 3 assists, leading the team in both categories.
“It was a great first win. It’s always exciting to see that what you work on during practice is effective in games. Everyone on the team was excited and ready to play, and that’s the kind of mentality that we need moving forward. When the whole team locks in and we play as a unit, it’s hard not to have a good individual performance,” Holguin said.
Regardless of the big win, Assistant Coach Joe Shotland believes there is always something to improve on.
“Well, we shot 18 of 30 from the line, so we can always improve there. We were pretty good in the first half limiting turnovers, but we got a little sloppy in the second half. We finished with 19 [turnovers] and we always want to keep it under 15. The good news is we won, but there is a ton of stuff to work on,” Shotland sai.
Opening the season with a win is ideal, but the season is long and it’s good to have a measured response like Shotland’s. The Tigers will continue the season on Nov. 20 at home vs. LeTourneau.