As soon as the Seward County Community College women’s basketball 2007-2008 schedule was announced, one specific date stood out more than any other- November 2 vs. Odessa College. It was the date the Lady Saints opened their season and it was against the team that Seward County faced in the NJCAA National Tournament semifinals last season. This time around it was the No. 1 nationally-ranked Lady Saints who came out on top with a convincing 76-64 victory over the defending national champion Odessa Lady Wranglers (0-1). Seward County (1-0) opened its season playing in front of a packed Green House during the Friday edition of the Pepsi Classic in Liberal. The victory also improves Seward County’s non-conference winning streak to 44 games, dating back to 2003.

The first-half was a battle, in both teams’ season openers, with a total of four ties and four lead changes. Odessa struck first with a three-point field goal from Kasia Suknarowska. Seward County answered with a 9-0 run, taking their largest lead in the half (9-3), following a field goal and 3-pointer from All-American Tegan Cunningham, a free throw from sophomore Jennifer Noel and a field goal from freshman Kasia Gawor.

The first-half stayed close until Seward ran into the locker rooms on a 6-0 run. Cunningham knocked down a free throw, and Gawor also connected on back-to-back foul shots, before freshman point guard Stephani Rhoten dropped in two points to give SCCC a 35-30 lead at the half.

Despite trailing by just five points, Odessa was having a difficult time finding a solution for Cunningham. The 6-foot-1-inch Cunningham led all players in the first-half with 14 points and seven rebounds while fighting through double and triple team defensive packages.

Seward County used their home court advantage and rolled in the second-half as the Lady Saints led by as many as 17 points and never relinquished the lead.

Rhoten connected on 4-of-5 field goals in the second-half, leading all players with 13 points in the second period. The freshman from Canyon, Texas, made her Lady Saints’ debut scoring 19 points with a team-high six assists and three steals. Cunningham led all players with 23 points and 10 rebounds. For her career, it was her 19th double/double and the 15th time she scored over 20 points in a single-game.

The Lady Saints also won the rebounding battle, 46-38, and were aided by posts Jennifer Noel (eight points, seven rebounds) and Amanda Pierson (five points, seven rebounds). In addition, sophomore guard Audra Binford scored 10 points and posted four rebounds, four assists and she made two 3-point buckets.

Odessa was led by the outside shooting of guard Diandra Marquez (21 points, six 3-point FG) and the low post play of returning sophomore Trivonne Senegal (20 points, eight rebounds, 6-for-17 FT).

Seward County will play their final game in the Pepsi Classic on Saturday, Nov. 3 hosting Carl Albert State College (0-1) for a 6 p.m. tip-off.

PEPSI CLASSIC RESULTS:
Garden City Community College (1-0) picked up a win in their season opening game against Carl Albert State College, 71-70. GCCC received scoring from nine different players, and were led offensively by Katie Novack (19 points) and Amelia Jones (10 points). The two teams combined for 71 turnovers, but it was Garden City who dominated the boards, 50-29. Carl Albert was led by returning sophomore Jolea Apon (17 points) and freshman Brittany Banks (11 points).