TRUMAN - Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton senior Sam Gruis went 3-for-10 shooting in the first half, but her second half scoring performance - 8-for-17 with back-to-back 3-pointers late in the game - helped stake the Bulldogs' basketball team to a 72-59 nonconference victory over the Truman Bluejays in Tuesday night's season-opener in Truman.
Emily Zaharia scored inside the paint for the first two buckets of the Bluejays' season to help give them the early lead in the first half.
The Bulldogs' pressure began to wreak havoc as the half wore on for the Bluejay ball handlers.
LOOKING FOR AN?OPENING — Truman guard Mikala Maloney (left) looks for space to drive around Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton’s Hannah Olson during non-league basketball action Tuesday night in Truman. Photo by Leanna Becker
With 9:30 remaining in the opening half, Gruis made a steal on a pass across mid-court and proceeded to drive down the right side of the paint.
With Zaharia and Cleo Maloney coming to defend the ball, Gruis slipped a pass to Kaley Anderson for the left-handed layup to give the Bulldogs their first lead of the game at 12-11.
"I thought we rebounded phenomenally tonight, but I think we'll have to work on our passing after tonight's game," said Truman head coach Bruce Hartwig.
As the opening half wore down, both teams traded shots from the charity stripe.
Brooke McDonald, who produced a game-leading double-double of 25 points and 17 rebounds, drew five fouls and went 6-10 from the foul line in the first half to keep Truman's deficit to only 27-26 at halftime.
In the opening minutes of the second half, the Bulldogs' cool offense suddenly shifted into high gear with the help of Gruis and Anderson.
JWP scored the first two baskets to increase its lead to five. The Bulldogs kept the momentum en route to a 47-37 lead on the power of long-range 3s by Gruis on back-to-back Bulldog possessions.
Cleo Maloney gave the home crowd something to cheer about when she drilled a 3-pointer in response to Gruis' shots.
The Bluejays continued to pick away at the Bulldogs' lead on the back of McDonald's 17-point second half.
"I was happy with the way the girls played hard tonight. They never quit and they worked hard the entire game. With just two bench players, I think they were tired by the end, but they continued to play hard the whole game," said Hartwig.
With 4:40 left in the game, McDonald swished two of her nine made free throws in the half, along with a inside jumper, to make it a 56-50 game.
A Truman turnover to the Bulldogs' full-court press and a steal on the next Bluejays' possession led to baskets by Gruis and Anderson to increase the lead back to double digits.
With the Bluejays trailing by eight with under three minutes to play, McDonald sank a free throw to make it a seven-point game at 53-60.
Unfortunately for Truman, Anderson drove from the left wing on the ensuing possession and scored a three-point play to seal the victory for the Bulldogs.
"I was surprised this was a much higher scoring game than I thought it would be," said Hartwig. "For us to score 59 points in the first game, I wasn't surprised to see what a high-octane offense we have."
The Bulldogs' Gruis finished the game with 24 points and six rebounds, while Anderson added 25 points. Cari Gottschalk pulled down a team-best 11 boards.
McDonald led the Bluejays' efforts with 25 points and 17 rebounds, while Cleo Maloney added 15 points for Truman.
Truman (0-1) hosts Martin Luther in a Valley Conference game at 7:30 p.m. Thursday night.
Janesville-Waldorf-Pemberton (1-0) travels to Cleveland for a 7:30 p.m. contest on Monday night.