Ka’Neisha Smith had shown flashes of brilliance throughout the season, but the SWAC preseason defensive player of year waited until Thursday night against Iowa to show what she’s really capable of.
The Mississippi Valley State guard poured in 23 points and snagged eight rebounds in a narrow 86-80 loss to the Hawkeyes at the Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Sandhill, Miss. native, who scored nine of her team’s first 13 points, hit 10 of 17 shots and dished out six assists.
“Tonight was a great offensive showing for our team,” said MVSU head coach Nate Kilbert.
MVSU had one of its best shooting nights of the season (33 of 56) and nailed 11 of 19 three-pointers (57.9 percent). Lenise Stallings scored 18 points and Alia Frank put up 16 off the bench.
“Several players scored in double figures while making shots at key times which allowed us to stay close late in the second half,” added Kilbert.
Valley trailed by as much as 22 points in the first half, but the Devilettes (2-6) never gave up. MVSU closed the lead to four, 66-62, on a Khristina Clemons layup with 10:58 left to play. The lead then closed to one point after a Lenise Stallings three-pointer at the 10:05 mark.
Stallings scored another three-pointer with 1:50 left that put the Devilettes down by two points, 82-80. But two converted free throws each from Iowa’s Kamille Wahlin and Jaime Printy in the final 24 seconds secured the win for the Hawkeyes, who made a school-record 14 three-pointers.
“Anytime you have a chance to win on the road against a very good Iowa team,” Kilbert said, “that is all you can ask for, except the win.”
MVSU will travel to the University of Arkansas on Wednesday, Dec. 28, for a 4 p.m. tipoff.