North Alabama concluded the Denver Pioneer Thanksgiving Classic on Saturday with a dominating 88-60 win over UC-Irvine, where five players scored in double figures.
The Lions (5-2) led 27-9 at the end of the first quarter and led by as many as 40 in the fourth quarter in a game that was never in question for UNA. Brittany Panetti led all scorers with 20 points and four rebounds, while Ivy Wallen had another double-double, with 11 points and 10 assists.
“This is a good win for us. They're good, they're picked to win their conference,” UNA head coach Missy Tiber said. “(But) we really jumped on them (and) I don’t think they quite knew how to respond.”
Tiber explained that UC-Irvine was pressing the Lions, which opened up opportunities for UNA to spread the ball around offensively and get open opportunities. The Lions shot 46 percent from the field and added 24 assists.
Of the five players in double figures, senior guard Ansley Eubank was a perfect 6 for 6 on field goals.
Offensively, Tiber said the team runs a motion-based offense that doesn’t include a lot of set plays that determines if one player is going to get the ball. The staff has worked with the players to ensure the ball is going to whoever has the hot hand typically in game.
“That tells the story about this team and the character of these kids,” Tiber said. “They’re extremely selfless and they just want to win and they work extremely hard to do it.”
Panetti had another solid game in the post marking the second game where Tiber said she’s really upped her play on both ends of the court, particularly by being aggressive. In turn, her performance helped the team gather 53 total rebounds.
“(Panetti) will be the first to tell you that she wasn’t playing up to her ability (before) and these last two games, she’s really changed that,” Tiber said.
UNA now leaves Denver, Colorado, having won both games and will return to Flowers Hall to face Oakwood on Thursday. Tiber is pleased with the turnaround this weekend after the disappointment of Wednesday’s loss to Samford.
“These last two games, the girls just really focused in defensively,” Tiber said. “They did everything like we asked them to do and executed offensively, too.”