Stars cruise to 23-point win

Friday, December 5, 2008 | 9:43 p.m. CST; updated 10:14 p.m. CST, Friday, December 5, 2008
Stephens forward Cara Leis, right, dribbles the ball closer to the basket before passing to a teammate as Manhattan Christian College players Whitney Stotts and Kristy Reigle fail to stop her during the first half on Friday at Stephens College. The Stars won 77-54.

COLUMBIA — It was the Stephens' basketball team's second victory at Silverthorne Arena on Friday night, but the fans treated Stars 77-54 win over Manhattan Christian College as if it were the first.

Fans congratulated each other on the first win of the season. The  Stephens' unofficial spirit squad stood on metal chairs lining the exit to the Stars' locker room to form a human archway that the entire team ran under for a celebratory ovation.

The Stars' first win at home, secured during Stephens home tournament against St. Louis College of Pharmacy on Nov. 11, had faded into a distant memory for the Stephens basketball community.

Stephens had been in a slump, losing the last two home games in hard-fought battles that wore down on the team's spirit. So prior to the game Friday night, Stephens head coach Dane Pavlovich decided the to change the Stars' warm-up routine. One of the new drills he had the players run was a three-point shooting drill.

It paid off. The Stars shot 62-percent from behind the 3-point line in the second half. Stephens junior Vanessa Koonce came off the bench to notch two three-pointers in a row, scoring a total of 10 points and nabbing 2 rebounds.

"She (Vanessa) is an offensive weapon that makes our team dangerous from the outside," Pavlovich said. "If she continues her three-point streak from tonight, we will be a real threat in our upcoming games."

 Stephens faces Principia College and Westminister College next week in what Pavlovich said will be two very difficult games. The team hopes to continue the home winning streak when the Stars enter Silverthorne Arena again on Dec. 12 at 7 p.m. to face Principia College.

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