By Dave Tomczak

MUSKEGON – With its offense sputtering badly in the first half, the Muskegon Community College women’s basketball team turned to its defense for a spark.

That did the trick.

The Jayhawks’ full-court pressure helped lead to easy baskets and turned an 11-point halftime deficit into a 60-45 win over visiting Mid-Michigan Community College on Wednesday.

The Jayhawks improved to 18-5 overall and 12-2 in the Michigan Community College Athletic Association’s Western Conference. They are tied for second place with Lake Michigan College, and are one game behind first-place Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

Kalisa Williams gets knocked down on the drive for MCC. Photo/Jason Goorman

“We were disappointed, as coaches, in the first half, because we had no fight, no fire,” said MCC coach Amanda Parker. “We were really cold from the floor, too, which is uncharacteristic of us, because we have good shooters.”

MCC, which only made 6 of 33 shots in the first half, watched Mid-Michigan race to an 11-0 lead in the opening minutes and a 31-20 edge at halftime.

But the Jayhawks turned up the defensive pressure in the second half, and it wore on Mid-Michigan, which started coughing up the ball and giving MCC easy buckets.

MCC outscored the Lakers 25-4 in the third quarter led 45-35 headed into the fourth.

“We went in at the half and changed nothing,” Parker said. “We just needed to play with some heart. And that third quarter, that’s when we played like we are capable of.”

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Bailey Freeland pulled the Jayhawks within 33-31 with five minutes left in the third. Steals and layups by Haven Johnston and Kelsey Hackbardt put MCC up for good, 35-33.

The Jayhawks ended up outscoring the Lakers 40-14 in the second half.

“We went in at the half down, but we didn’t doubt ourselves,” said Freeland, a sophomore guard. “The coaches have tons of confidence in us, and it all starts with our defense – get some steals and transition baskets.”

Kalisa Williams led the Jayhawks with 17 points and six assists. Freeland finished with 13 points and three steals, Taylor Schmitt added 10 points, Jena’a Matthews had eight rebounds and Camaryia Williams registered six steals.