MASON CITY | The NIACC women’s basketball team put up some gawdy numbers on its way to a 4-0 start.
On Saturday, though, the Lady Trojans picked up the level of competition a bit as they played host to a Division I Iowa Western team that has downed the Trojans in the last 13 matchups between the two teams.
This NIACC team has a different feel to it, and the Lady Trojans put together a solid overall performance to snap that skid with a 98-89 victory.
“Iowa Western was a mental roadblock,” Lady Trojans coach Todd Ciochetto said. “But we’re a talented group. No one is used to our pace.”
NIACC has averaged more than 108 points per game over its first five games of the season.
Initially, it seemed like Iowa Western was perfectly content to run with the Lady Trojans, even though the Reivers had a solid height advantage.
Despite a sub-par shooting performance in the first half, NIACC managed to take a 41-36 lead into the locker room.
NIACC’s speed was the difference in the second half as the Lady Trojan guards were consistently able to beat Iowa Western’s guards off of the dribble.
“The speed is the thing,” NIACC sophomore guard Taylor Laabs said. “We play against a lot of speed in practice.”
The penetration helped the Lady Trojans shoot 53.7 percent from the floor in the second half.
NIACC’s speed also contributed to a plus-16 turnover margin in the game.
Despite the statistical advantage for NIACC, Iowa Western made a strong fourth-quarter run and pulled within three points before the Lady Trojans put the game away late.
Laabs, who spent much of the evening at the point in the Lady Trojan offense, finished with a career-high 31 points, three assists and just one turnover.
Mikayla Homola added 14 points off the bench while sophomore guard UU Longs had 13 points.
Khalilah Holloway had 10 for NIACC.
Delia Ania-Gaja scored 22 points to lead Iowa Western.
NIACC (5-0) returns to action on Tuesday when it plays host to Riverland College.