Any serious national championship contender at any level needs a defensive standout. The Drury Lady Panthers have just that with graduate student Terrion Moore.
Ask Coach Amy Eagan about Moore’s strengths as a player and she will begin with defense. Moore has the accolades to back it up, named Great Lakes Valley Conference Defensive Player of the Year in helping Durry to a 30-1 record and No. 2 ranking in NCAA Division II.
“You’re talking about a kid that’s a great leader and a great teammate,” Eagan said of Moore. “Defensively, she was the defensive player of the year in the league but … I’m not sure what her weakness is. She can do a little bit of everything.”
Fresh off winning MVP honors in the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament last weekend, Moore and the Lady Panthers continue their national-championship pursuit beginning on Friday in the nation’s toughest Division II regional.
The Ashland, Ohio, Midwest Regional features three of the country’s top five teams — No. 1 Ashland, No. 2 Drury No. 5 and Grand Valley State. The Lady Panthers face Lewis at 1:30 p.m. Friday in the quarterfinals.
Drury prepares for fourth meeting with Lewis
It will be the fourth meeting of the season with conference rival Lewis and the third match between the teams in two weeks. Eagan noted that DII pairs teams geographically, unlike most all other postseason levels of basketball in NCAA or NAIA.
“To beat a good team three times is hard enough,” Eagan said. “Now to go and play them a fourth time, including three times in 14 days, that’s tough. We’re looking at anything possible they can throw at us and adjustments that we can make.”
Drury has been on a collision course with Ashland since suffering its lone defeat, back on Nov. 23 at O’Reilly Family Event Center. Ashland escaped with a 68-67 overtime victory. The Lady Panthers obviously would like another crack at undefeated Ashland in Monday’s regional final, for a trip to the Elite Eight.
“Of course, I haven’t forgotten about it,” Moore said of Drury’s lone blemish. “But I don’t dwell on things. In the game of basketball, you shouldn’t dwell on things. As with anything, we learn from it and I learn from it and we move forward. We’re gonna use everything we learned to be successful if we do meet them again Monday.”
Until then, Moore looks to extend her playing career as long as she can. The Kansas City, Kansas, native, who came to Drury after playing two seasons at Arkansas-Little Rock and one season at Illinois State, is having a blast.
Teammates wanted ‘T’ to come back for final season
Eagan said Moore came to Drury because of her association with Lady Panthers assistant coach Jordan Mellot, who coached Moore at Leavenworth High School.
“When she decided to come here she was only going to play one year and then move on to the working world,” Eagan said of the 5-foot-8 guard. “That was what we thought the whole year. With the way the season ended (regional semifinal loss) I think the really cool thing is we did individual meetings and Kaylee DaMitz-Holt, Allie Clevinger and others sat in my office and asked, ‘Can “T” come back?’
“I said I’d mentioned it to her, but I think it would mean more coming from you guys. So I think that had a little to do with her coming back.”
Moore said it’s been all about being around “good teammates who are good people” since she’s been at Drury. She was happy to come back and help them chase a championship while pursuing a Master’s in Integrated Leadership.
“It’s just a fun atmosphere,” Moore said. “That’s really what it is, good people to be around. It was about coming up short the year before, wanting to come back and see if we could do better.
“I’m glad I did come back. It’s been a success.”
Moore averages 13.5 points, scoring in a variety of ways, and 4.7 rebounds. Her 99 assists are second on the team, and the guard leads the team in blocked shots with 23 and is second in steals with 30.
Moore takes pride in her defense
For all she does on the playing floor, Moore is most proud of her defensive ability because it’s something she has direct command over.
“I can always play offense, but I try to focus on defense. That’s the only thing you can control at all times, your attitude and your effort towards it,” she said. “I don’t know how to really describe it. I would say that when you know the game, it makes it easier.”
Eagan said Moore is deserving of her defensive plaudits, and more.
“You talk about a kid that’s a great leader and a great teammate,” Eagan said. “Defensively she was the defensive player of the year in the league. She’s athletic, she rebounds really well. I’m not sure what her weakness is. She’s shooting it well. She can do a little bit of everything, get to the rim, pull up or make 3s.
“Man, is she having a great year and I’m glad she came back. I think she’s just more comfortable this year. That first year is a little harder figuring out your teammates and figuring out what coaches want. She’s just so much more comfortable and playing with so much confidence.”
NCAA DII Midwest Regional
At Ashland, Ohio
11 a.m. — No. 3 seed Grand Valley St. (29-2) vs. No. 6 Kentucky Wesleyan (23-6)
1:30 p.m. — No. 2 Drury (30-1) vs. No. 7 Lewis (21-10)
4 p.m. — No. 1 Ashland (31-0) vs. No. 8 Malone (21-9)
6:30 p.m. — No. 4 Michigan Tech (25-6) vs. No. 5 Trevecca Nazarene (21-9)
4 and 6:30 p.m.