By Richard Polen
Globe Sports Writer
Rolla’s defensive pressure helped produce a 24-point second quarter as the Lady Bulldogs defeated Joplin 67-42 in the Ozark Conference opener for both teams Monday night at Young Gymnasium.
Gabrielle Otte, a 5-foot-8 forward, scored 14 of her 18 points in the first half as Rolla built a 40-17 halftime lead. Madison Collier, a junior forward, came off the bench and scored 12 points.
“I knew Joplin was going to be pretty tough, but I knew with our defensive pressure we could get some easy baskets,” said Rolla head coach Bryce Swafford. “We knew coming in we had to take them out of their comfort zone.”
Joplin sophomore guard Bailey Taylor scored 12 of her 19 points in the second half. Jacqueline Lieurance scored nine points for the Eagles and Kelsey Johnson had six points on two 3-pointers.
Rolla led 10-8 late in the first quarter before three consecutive 3-pointers, including two by junior guard Shannon McCaul, started a 24-4 Rolla run.
The two teams traded baskets for most of the second half. Johnson and Taylor each had a 3-pointer for the Eagles in the fourth quarter.
“We’re doing things that don’t show up in the newspaper,” said Joplin head coach Dustin Larsen. “We had our best night of defensive rebounding. We’re just starting to do some little things.”
Taylor scored on an offensive rebound and twice drove through Rolla’s defense for baskets in the second half.
“We’re still learning how to be aggressive and score,” Larsen said. “Our kids are getting more confidence and learning to play.”