DIXON – Mike Cooper was able to keep Plan B in his pocket Friday night at Lancaster Gym.
The Dixon Duchesses were unable to make the Ottawa coach's Pirates pay for playing a box-and-one zone in a 47-26 Northern Illinois Big 12 West loss.
"We were rolling the dice," Cooper said. "We were ready to play man most of the night. They just never really hit any shots, so they didn't force us to go man."
Ottawa (20-5, 8-1) junior Cassidy Rice nearly outscored Dixon (10-15, 4-5) singlehandedly with 24 points. Her fellow guards – most notably Lindsey Greene – held the area's leading scorer, Brooke Bailey (18.7 ppg.), to just five points on 1-for-13 shooting.
Early on, despite two Pirates picking her up at the timeline, Bailey was able to set up her teammates. But they missed open jumpers and bunnies as Ottawa built a 27-7 halftime lead.
The Duchesses shot 11-for-43, including 6-for-23 in the paint.
"That's not gonna win many games," Dixon coach Luke Ravlin said. "You can't ask for better shots than some of what we got in that game."
Meanwhile, the Pirates ran screens galore to trigger wide-open looks. They shot 5-for-10 from beyond the arc.
"Credit to Cooper and his girls for running good stuff and making shots," Ravlin said.
Jasmine Bailey (15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists) used a screen to hit a 3 from the left wing off a Jaleesa Kindred (6 points, 11 rebounds) assist. Kari Wolfe dribbled the ball off her foot and out of bounds on the other end, and Bailey stuck another triple seconds later, making it 27-7 with 2 minutes left in the half.
Then Taylor Colby missed a bunny. Moments later, Kacie Dillow came up with a steal and set up a Bailey runout but, perhaps excited about her rare freedom, the junior point guard carried the ball.
Early in the third, Bailey provided one of the few Dixon highlights, converting a four-point play to make it 30-12, thanks to a Colby screen at the top of the key. She picked Greene, and Bailey drilled the 3 from the left wing before contact by Mady Toynton sent her to the deck.
Perhaps that triggered a bad memory for Rice and company. The Duchesses trailed 20-9 at the half before getting within three in a 48-34 loss Jan. 4 at Kingman Gym.
"We knew last time, Brooke Bailey came out with 17 points in the third quarter," she said. "During halftime, we knew what we had wasn't enough."
So a few minutes later, Rice hit a 3 off a Kiley Johnson assist to build a 39-14 cushion. She managed to block a Bailey stepback 3 early in the fourth, and her prolific night ended with back-to-back buckets midway through the final frame, giving Ottawa a 47-20 lead.
Dixon reserves Maggie Provo and Maggie Bushman knocked down shots before seldom-used senior guard Erika Meeks took a rebound coast-to-coast for a layup, drawing a loud cheer from the Duchess faithful.
With a win next Thursday over lowly Streator, the Pirates would clinch at least a share of the NIB-12 West title. Sterling (16-12, 8-1) hosts LaSalle-Peru that night.
"That's a good club trying to win a conference championships. As we grow, we can learn from teams like that," Ravlin said.
Star of the game: Cassidy Rice, Ottawa, 24 points on 9-for-14 shooting, 4 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks
Key performers: Jasmine Bailey, Ottawa, 15 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists; Jaleesa Kindred, Ottawa, 6 points, 11 rebounds, block, assist
Up next: Rochelle at Dixon, 7:30 p.m. Tuesday