Echi’s trip-dub leads NWF State to rout

Echi’s trip-dub leads NWF State to rout

By SETH STRINGER

NICEVILLE – Leandra Echi knew she could catch ASA-Miami napping out of the halftime locker room.

So too did Jaiden McCoy, who was happy to be a part of Echi's 12-point, 12-rebound, 12-assist triple-double.

Echi inbounded the ball from halfcourt to a flashing McCoy, whose layup Friday night was part of a 50-percent shooting effort for NWF State in an 81-40 win.

"We have a couple of little out-of-bounds plays where if they want to over-guard, we run some stuff out of the backside for Jaiden," NWF State coach Bart Walker said. "Lee did a good job of finding it and that's a good way to start a half so you can set up your press.

"That's good stuff."

It's funny to think any team could be sleeping on NWF State.

The Raiders are ranked No. 1 in the country.

They're 10-0 and outscoring foes 83-44 nightly, no team playing them within 16 points.

They're outrebounding foes by 12 nightly, and they're sharing the ball at a ridiculous clip with 20 assists a night.

And on Mickey Englett Court? Unbeatable, a perfect 6-0.

Meanwhile their star point guard is dropping triple-doubles.

"I've been scared to try and take over a game, but tonight I just went with it," said the 5-foot-6 playmaker.

Echi had a sense she was close to her first career triple-double.

"I knew I was doing pretty good in every area, so if I just kept doing what I was doing all game I was pretty sure I could get it," Said Echi, who after the first quarter alone had six points, five assists and four rebounds.

Echi gathered her 10th rebound on an offensive rebound that led to two of Cece Mayo's game-high 17 points. And out of the three stats for the triple-double, her 12 rebounds meant most.

"For me as the shortest person on the court, it's pretty cool that I can lead our team in rebounding.

Her 10th point came on a steal that assistant coach Matt Shewmake called for on a trap. She obliged the request and coasted in for the layup on a 4-of-5 shooting night. Yet, between the three stats, Echi said points are the least desirable.

"Passing gives energy to the team," she said. "Points are just points."

Speaking of passing, Echi was dropping dimes everywhere.

No look. Left-handed. Right-handed. In transition. And, as mentioned earlier, off the inbounds.

"Lee plays with so much energy and she brings so much to our team," Walker said. "When she can stay on the court and kind of channel that aggressiveness without fouling, she's such a valuable asset to us."

On defense, too, the sophomore picking up four steals Friday night.

Speaking of defense, once again it was the focal point Friday night for the Raiders.

They forced 27 turnovers and eight shot-clock violations and limited ASA-Miami to 32 percent shooting and a 3-of-15 clip from beyond the arc. Out of the locker rooms the visitors mustered just three points in the third quarter and 18 points overall in the second half after scoring 22 in the first half.

"We set some defensive goals to start the game so that we can challenge ourselves to get better defensively," Walker said. "Our goal out of halftime was don't let them double their score. We didn't allow 44 points so they accomplished that."

Joining Mayo and Echi in double figures was Georgia Gayle, Awa Trasi and Shania Meertens, each of whom had 10 points. Anastasiia Zakharova added nine points.

Depth, defense and flashy numbers ... yep, No. 1 sure does look good on NWF State.

"It means a lot," Echi said of the top rank. "Last year we were doubted because the year before. But this year we have something to prove and we deserve that No. 1 seed."