In an imposing and defensively dominant performance, No. 2 East Lansing beat CAAC Blue division rival Okemos, 62-21, on Tuesday evening to remain undefeated. After going into the half leading 38-10, the Trojans built on their lead early in the second half to trigger a running clock, cruising to an easy victory.
Defense set the tone for the Trojans.
Facing the Trojans’s full-court press, Okemos’s guards struggled to advance the ball against East Lansing’s defenders. Turnovers were profuse.
Late in the first quarter, Corrine Jones tied up Haley Henion at the midcourt logo, flipping possession to the Trojans. East Lansing quickly turned the ball over on the ensuing possession, but Ella Miller intercepted an Okemos pass through the Trojans’s defense. Miller passed to Bre’Naya Lane, who led the break, dishing an assist on an Allie Mayes bucket that pushed the Trojans further ahead, 15-4, with a minute left in the first quarter.
That series of possessions at the end of the first frame were similar to the rest of the game. East Lansing pressed, forcing Okemos into turnovers. When the press was broken, East Lansing’s halfcourt defense held up, causing more turnovers and causing contested shots for Okemos.
The physical play of the game led to fouls to the Trojans’ benefit — East Lansing shot 11-of-15 from the free throw line and Okemos went 1-of-2 — and ultimately took a toll on the players.
Midway through the second quarter, Okemos’ Isabella Migaldi broke on a pass across the zone, intercepting it and getting fouled as the intended target for the pass tried to make a play. Migaldi stayed down briefly, appearing in pain before coming off the court. She didn’t return to the game.
And with :53 left in the third quarter, East Lansing’s Sophia Klinger sprinted to the wing in front of the bleachers, leaping to contest a shot and landing hard on her side. A trainer attended Klinger, who walked off the court shortly after going down.
While Klinger was down, Okemos head coach Sarah Holt-Dehner got her second technical foul of the game and was ejected. She had been increasingly frustrated with the officials for the physical nature of the game and could be heard saying something about a player on each team having gotten hurt.
And a methodical offense did the rest.
When the Trojans weren’t running out in transition, they sought to break down a 2-3 zone defense played by Okemos. Calmly, the Trojans moved the ball around the perimeter, looking for a gap to move the ball inside or drive to the rim.
When the ball did come inside and the zone reacted, shooters came open — Annelise Lebeda particularly thrived getting to the high post area and shooting 3s against the zone. She led all scorers with 16 points.
Only one other player — Lane, 13 points — scored in double figures. Besides the 29 points from Lane and Lebeda, the Trojans offense was evenly distributed, with six different players contributing the remaining 33 points.
Soraya Timms started hot, scoring five points in the first quarter and seven in the game. Mayes added seven points of her own. Rounding out the starting five, Jones only scored two points, but was a defensive stalwart, and, as such, a major offensive catalyst, all game.
Coming off the bench, Gracie Emerson added seven points, Miller scored four, as did Aaliyah Morehouse, and Hannah Wakulsky scored two.