EMORY, Va. - Revenge was theirs.
Kara Stafford and the Emory & Henry College Wasps took a 24-point beating at rival Roanoke College last month.
They returned the favor on Wednesday, rolling past the Maroons 75-52 to claim an Old Dominion Athletic Conference victory on Bob Johnson Court.
“Tonight we came back for a little bit of revenge,” said Stafford, whose Wasps fell 83-59 to Roanoke on Jan. 8. “We just had to work on defense and just be confident shooting the ball.”
They did just fine on both in this one, led by Stafford, who continues her late season surge, contributing 18 points - including a trio of 3s - along with seven rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Stafford, a product of Sullivan East, saw the need to pick up her game when fellow senior starters Sydney McKinney and Peyton Williams missed time with injuries.
“They kind of went out at the same time so that kind of made me have to step up and take a bigger leadership role,” Stafford said. “I think it has helped me out a lot, just personally gave me a little more confidence.”
Roanoke (15-8, 10-6) rallied from an early deficit, taking its biggest lead at 25-22 on a 3-pointer by Kayla Kinsler, but the Wasps outscored the Maroons 19-4 from that point to take a 41-29 lead at the break.
Stafford had eight of her 11 first half points in the second quarter.
“She stepped up. When Peyton and Syd got hurt, she had to step up and she has just kind of been doing the same ever since,” Emory & Henry first year head coach Jaclyn Dickens said. “Those three seniors definitely contribute in some sort of way. It is not just points, it is everything. I love it.”
It paid off on this night, with the Wasps up by 12 after trailing by 20 at halftime in the loss at Roanoke, who were held to 31 fewer points in this one. The Wasps forced 24 turnovers to pick up this win.
“You have got to learn from losses, no doubt. We did, we watched film after that game and we watched film about it before and so we definitely learned some things we could do differently against them,” Dickens said. “They are great team. We had to be more prepared because they are very aggressive, very scrappy and I think it kind of psyched us at their place, but we were ready for it today.”
Very. Emory & Henry (18-4, 12-3) kept up the intensity even with Union product McKinney in foul trouble for much of the game, never allowing the Maroons to get any closer than nine points in the second half in front of sizable audience who have seen the Wasps win 13 straight at home.
“We have got a great crowd,” Dickens said. “We get more rest and you get in your routine and all the families are there and then our students just support. Of course, you shoot here every day, that helps.”
McKinney still had 11 points and 10 boards in just 17 minutes on the floor, while Northwood’s Peyton Williams added 13 points, eight boards, six assists and five steals. Junior Elizabethton Jones contributed 10 points.
Alexis Hoppers tallied eight points and five boards playing behind McKinney. Abingdon product Taylor Gilbert also had eight points.
“Everybody focuses on Sydney,” Dickens said. “She is such a all-around great player, that opens up everybody else so that helps.”
Emory & Henry is one of six teams with at least 10 wins in the league standings, leaving a jumble at the top. The Wasps’ dream of an ODAC title is still very much alive, but it won’t be easy.
“That is definitely the goal,” Dickens said. “Win the championship is really the goal and that will take care of it. You don’t have to bank on anybody else so we are excited.”
The Wasps entered the contest sixth in the NCAA Division III South Region rankings, a key component for determining tourney teams at the end of the season. They were snubbed last season, and would certainly like to play their way in this time.
“I just want us to do our thing, I don’t want us to feel pressure to do something that we can or be somewhere that we are not capable of,” Stafford said. “I definitely think we are capable of coming out on the top this year. Obviously the ODAC is pretty even so it is going to be a fight for sure.
“It would be nice to get some recognition from there. We are going to work on the now and worry about all of that later.”
Ayanna Scarborough led the Maroons with 14 points and Sayre Brandstatter added 12, all on four 3s. Wise County Central product Dee Cvetnich contributed three rebounds and one assist in five minutes on the floor.
Twelve different players saw minutes for the Wasps, with 10 of those having played at regional high schools. Nine of those 12 players put points on the board.
“We have the depth in the bench so we keep them rolling in,” Stafford said. “We are all pretty local so it is pretty nice.”