HICKORY, N.C. — Naomi McDaniel basically spent the entire second quarter on the bench Tuesday morning during Parkland’s first-round NJCAA Division II national tournament game against Muskegon (Mich.).
Two early fouls were just her part in a tough start for the Cobras’ women’s basketball team.
McDaniel turned it around after halftime. So did Parkland. The 6-foot-1 sophomore forward put up double-double production in the final two quarters — finishing with 17 points and 13 rebounds — and the sixth-seeded Cobras bore down on the defensive end for a 58-37 victory. Parkland (18-3) advances to play 14th-seeded Union County (N.J.) at 6 p.m. Wednesday in a quarterfinal game.
“She kind of went into ‘Naomi mode,’” Parkland coach Allie Lindemann said of McDaniel. “She does this consistently in practice. She was physical. She went and got boards offensively. She made tough moves in the low post.
“She’s just a tough person to guard because she can hit the outside shot, and she’s long and she’s quick. She did a good job of being aggressive inside that second half to do what she always does in practice.”
McDaniel’s rebounding work was a key part of Parkland’s strong defense in the second half. The Cobras out-rebounded Muskegon 47-33, regularly limiting the Jayhawks (13-3) to one shot per possessions. Shots that didn’t go in with much frequency, as Muskegon shot 21.1 percent overall, 11.5 percent from three-point range and scored just 12 points in the second half.
“Especially the second half, we ran the shot clock down on them,” Lindemann said. “They ended up having to throw up a couple crazy, contested shots. We were able to clean up the boards. We took away what they wanted to do. A lot of times they’re a dribble-drive four-out, one-in team, but we took away those driving lanes and really honed in on one-and-done on the boards.”
Defense has become Parkland’s calling card this season. The Cobras rank ninth nationally in opponents field-goal percentage (32.8 percent) and 12th nationally in points allowed per game (54.7).
“We’re all about having that team defense,” Lindemann said. “If the person that’s guarding the ball gets beat, the next person is picking it up and then helping the helper. We harp on that on a daily basis. It’s carrying over what we’ve been talking about since day one.”
Former St. Joseph-Ogden standout Peyton Crowe joined McDaniel in double figures with 12 points, but Parkland utilized a balanced offense during its first-round win. That included outscoring Muskegon 21-3 on bench production.
Parkland will face an upset-minded Union County in Wednesday’s quarterfinal round. The Owls (14-3) knocked off No. 3 seed Kansas City (Kan.) 72-69 in overtime on Tuesday behind a game-high 22 points from sophomore guard Brianna Mills.
“They have the momentum on their side right now,” Lindemann said. “They’re just a really strong, scrappy team. A completely different style than what we saw (Tuesday). We’ll have to be able to contain that pressure, stay composed under the pressure and, defensively, that’s how we’re going to continue to win games.”