Mitchell (0-3) got off to the start it wanted, scoring 12 points in the first quarter. Combined with a 16-point second quarter, the Kernels scored the most first-half points, 28, they’ve managed this season.
But it was the third straight game in which Mitchell scored fewer than 10 points in the third quarter. Coming out of halftime with a four-point cushion, Mitchell allowed Brookings to go on a 23-8 run, to trail by 11 after three quarters. In its first two games of the season, Mitchell combined for seven total points in the third quarter. Coach Cole Knippling said the third-quarter struggles have been because the team hasn’t gotten quality looks at the basket coming out of halftime.
“It’s a momentum thing and sometimes you have to find your rhythm at the rim and get the easy kick-out threes, but in the third quarter, our threes weren’t good looks,” Knippling said. “I think the main reason why we’re struggling in the third is because the 3-point attempts we got weren’t the quality threes we want.”
Mitchell finished 9-for-25 from 3-point range and had a four-minute stretch in the third quarter in which it went scoreless. As the Bobcats went on their 12-0 run during that time, Knippling said outside of that portion of the third quarter, he felt the Kernels hung even with Brookings.
“I liked a lot of the stuff we did and I really thought we played them even except for that four-minute stretch,” Knippling said. “After that though, it’s a totally different game. That push we made afterward should be a push to take the lead, not a push to try and get within seven. So we just have to play smart basketball and not have those dry stretches like we did.”
The Kernels forced 10 steals and had a better grasp on the game by allowing seven turnovers, compared to 34 they had through the first two games of the season.
Freshman Lauren Van Overschelde led Mitchell with 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting and 3-of-4 shooting from 3-point land. Sawyer Stoebner had 13 points and 11 of the team’s 21 rebounds while Sarah Sebert added 13 points as well. Even though the Kernels shot 17-for-56 from the field, Knippling said the team should be in better shape after a week off.
“We got next week off and we’ll rest until Christmas, and then after Christmas we’ve got two games against two good Wyoming opponents,” Knippling said.
Mitchell hosts Thunder Basin in the Hoop City Classic at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 28 in the Corn Palace, followed by a matchup against Campbell County at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 29.