Jordan, White lead CSM women’s hoops over Howard
By DALLAS COGLE
Just a shade over five minutes into last Tuesday’s contest against visiting Howard, Taylor White picked up her second personal foul.
The imposing 6-foot freshman power forward — a North Point High School product whose impactful inside presence has her leading College of Southern Maryland this young women’s basketball season with per-game numbers of 18 points, 13.8 rebounds, 5.5 blocks and 3.2 steals — was thus relegated to the bench for the remaining 14 minutes 54 seconds of the first half and forced to lead the Hawks cheering section.
Losing its best player in past years for so long in a game would have most likely resulted in devastation for CSM.
But not this season, as the team is already turning heads in the Maryland Junior College Conference as a much-improved program.
Led by sophomore guard Morgan Jordan’s game-high 20 points, the Hawks maintained their lead over Howard throughout the first half once White went to the bench, even stretching their advantage to as much as nine points.
White, usually not foul-trouble prone, played the entire second half without picking up another foul and enabled the Hawks to pull away from Howard for a 62-46 victory at CSM’s La Plata campus, breaking open a close game at halftime
“It was unfortunate that Taylor had to go out [in the first half], but we were fine. I knew that everyone else would pick it up, no one [player] is the team,” said Jordan, who flirted with a triple-double, thanks to eight rebounds and seven assists along with four steals. “We were all able to work together and pass the ball around and get open shots and get the points. They kept up their defense on us, so we did have to work hard. We were excited that we held the victory.”
“She made some good decisions,” CSM head coach Andy Norris said of Accokeek resident Jordan, the team’s second-leading scorer this season at 12.6 points per game. “Last couple games, she’s done a very good job of knowing when to push the ball and when not. She played a good game.”
White managed just a point on splitting a pair of free throws before exiting the game early in the first half. She was anxious to make something happen when she returned to the floor to start the second half, her Hawks clinging to a 30-26 intermission lead.
And White found her groove during the final 20 minutes of action, scoring 12 points to lead the league’s first-place Hawks (2-3, 2-0 MD JUCO).
In fact, White scored just eight points less in the second half than Howard (3-3, 0-1) registered as a team, as the Hawks kicked it up a notch defensively, obviously helped by their big presence returning to the floor.
By game’s end, White’s output was hardly indicative of a player who sat most of a half. She finished with 12 rebounds and three blocks in addition to her 13 points.
“All I could do was encourage my team from the bench, keep them going and stuff, and I was proud of them [in the first half without me],” White said. “They ran the ball, they were hustling and they didn’t lose the lead. [Jordan] stepped up a lot. She went to the basket a lot more. She just worked [her game].”
Not overlooked in the win were quality offensive showings from another pair of Hawks in freshman guards Alex Manning (Northern) and Leea Parker (Huntingtown).
Manning had 14 points while shooting a game-best 47 percent (7 of 15) from the floor.
Parker notched 10 points, including the momentous basket of the night when she drained a 15-foot baseline jumper right before the halftime buzzer to give the Hawks a four-point lead.
“That was her best performance of the year,” Norris said of Parker. “She played hard tonight. She did what we asked her to do. She took care of the ball and played good defense.”
The boost from Parker’s shot carried over into the second half, particularly on the defensive end for the Hawks as they stifled Howard’s offense and turned the stops into buckets on their offensive end of the court.
The Hawks’ lead quickly ballooned to 10 points early on in the second half and they never looked back, increasing their command to as much as 20 points late in the game.
“We’ve come a long ways defensively from the start of the season,” Norris said. “We’ve just got to build on that.”
“We were on our game, we were out trapping [defensively],” White added of her team’s ability to take over the game in the second half. “We were where we needed to be.”
About not picking up another foul in the second half, White said smiling, “I just played smart, standing up straight. I wasn’t playing scared. I wasn’t playing timid.”
Tonight at 5 p.m., the Hawks will be gunning for their third straight victory at winless Anne Arundel (0-3, 0-0), the only team CSM beat in conference play a year ago.
A Hawks victory would match their entire win total from a year ago when they were 3-18, including a 1-12 conference mark — only a tiebreaker ahead of Anne Arundel with the same league record.
The Hawks are tied with Cecil atop the Maryland JUCO with an unbeaten 2-0 league mark — already exceeding last year’s win total in the league.
“Nobody thought we were going to be 2-0 in [the Maryland] JUCO,” said Norris, whose club has avenged conference losses from a year ago by clobbering Garrett, 64-39, before disposing of Howard. “The girls are excited about that. That’s the goal [to be a Maryland JUCO contender]. We’re going to open some eyes.”
Howard, despite having the worst overall record a year ago of any Maryland JUCO club at 3-21 while finishing 2-11 in the league, is also an improved program this season like the Hawks. Howard, taking advantage of a deeper bench, has already matched its entire overall win total from last year.
Only guard Ciara McCray got to double digits offensively among Howard’s eight scorers against the Hawks. She tallied 10 points before fouling out with 26.5 seconds left in the game.