COPPERAS COVE — Before the game, Jasmin Johnson could not hit a shot. After the opening tipoff, however, she almost could not miss.
The Copperas Cove guard made four of six 3-pointers and her teammates connected on seven of 12 shots from behind the arc as the Lady Bulldawgs easily defeated Waco La Vega 84-57 at home Tuesday evening.
“During warm-ups, I wasn’t making anything at all,” said Johnson, who finished with 16 points. “I knew coming into the game, I really had to focus on my shot, focus on my form and make sure that I knocked them down for my team because I knew we would need it.”
Johnson recorded the game’s first six points — on a pair of 3-pointers — and the hot outside shooting spread like wildfire throughout the roster with five players making a 3-pointer. By halftime, the Lady Bulldawgs held a commanding 51-19 advantage with almost half its points (24) coming on 3-point field goals.
After the game, Copperas Cove head coach Teresa Durham admitted her team simply took the shots the defense gave it.
“We have several kids who are good spot-up shooters,” she said. “Tonight, they were just hitting them, and if (our opponent) isn’t going to make an adjustment to that then we will sit out there and shoot them all day long.”
And the Lady Bulldawgs did just that.
In addition to Johnson’s 3-point shooting performance, Angel Mullen was 2-for-2, Rachelle Allen was 1-for-1, Xylina Carlisle was 3-for-3 three, and Shawnte Goff was 1-of-2 en route to a team-high 21 points to go along with eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block. Durham believes Goff’s intangibles are her most valuable asset to the team, though.
“(She is valuable) because of her leadership, and she sees to distribute the ball very well to the other players,” the coach said of her senior guard. “It is not necessarily her points, but it is the other things she does that is not chartable that makes us tough to defend.”
After scoring four points in the first quarter, Goff posted nine on 3-of-4 shooting in the second quarter, and had several second-opportunity baskets after collecting offensive rebounds. As a whole, the Lady Bulldawgs flourished on the glass, and despite lacking a lot of height, outrebounded the Lady Vikings 27-22 with six players grabbing multiple boards.
“Coach really works on that in practice, and we know that if we don’t crash the boards, we are running,” Johnson said. “So, we make sure we at least get some block-outs, some rebounds or anything.”
The Lady Bulldawgs jumped out to a 9-4 lead as Johnson and Mullen combined to make three 3-pointers before stretching their lead to 11 points, 24-13, by the end of the first quarter. Things only got worse for La Vega in the second quarter as Cove went on an 18-2 run and held the Lady Pirates to six points on 3-of-11 shooting.
Mullin, who finished with eight points, four rebounds, three assists and a steal, found Johnson for another 3-pointer in the opening moments of the third quarter, sparking a 7-2 run to start the second half.
Copperas Cove’s lead would mushroom to 40 points on two separate occasions with the final instance occurring at 81-41 in the fourth quarter. With the game well in hand, a number of reserves finished the game for the Lady Bulldawgs, who were outscored 25-14 in the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, Durham was pleased to get her backups significant minutes and believes the playing time could prove beneficial when District 8-5A play begins in less than two weeks.
“At some point, they are going to have to step up for us,” Durham said. “There will always be that big game, when we are in foul trouble or I need to give someone a little break, so, to me, games like this are huge. I love the win, its an easy win when you can get those, but it is more important to get some kids some quality minutes, so they get more comfortable handling the basketball.”