DeKALB – After back-to-back losses last weekend and with five days off before Friday's game against Rochelle, the DeKalb girls basketball team went through a week of practices normally saved for the preseason.
Mistakes in drills more frequently led to punishment in the form of running and the coaches challenged the Barbs to be mentally tougher.
The result was one of DeKalb's better overall efforts this season as the Barbs' (7-3, 2-1 Northern Illinois Big 12 East) defense forced 27 turnovers in a 70-39 win over Rochelle at home.
"We need to be more confident and [coach Chris Daveport] really conditioned us this week and he really got out there," junior wing Paige Wogen said. "Tonight we just really played like a family."
Freshman Ashlei Lopez, who was making her second start of the season, scored on back-to-back driving layups with under a minute to play pulled the Barbs even before Rochelle took a 15-14 lead after the first eight minutes.
DeKalb's defense was unleashed in the second quarter, forcing eight Rochelle turnovers. The first two came off consecutive steals from Wogen that led to uncontested layups on the other end. She would add another steal and a bucket along with a three-pointer late in the half to give the Barbs a 12-point cushion at the half.
"I think the whole team worked together and that really helped us with our defense," said junior guard Jasmine Malloy, who finished with four points and three steals. "Usually it's a couple people, but I think we did really good defensively as a team. It just brings up the energy and everyone's in it."
Rochelle pulled within 42-31 late in the third quarter, but the Barbs closed on a 9-0 run, including a three-pointer from Wogen and a steal and layup from Brittney Patrick to push the lead to 20 after three quarters.
The Barbs scored 80 total points in their previous two contests, but recorded 70 against Rochelle. DeKalb shot 46 percent from the field on the night.
"I can't remember the last time we scored 70 points in a girls game," Davenport said. "That combined with playing better defensively the second through the fourth quarter ... we definitely needed it."
Wogen led the Barbs with 17 points while Brittney Patrick added 13 points, seven rebounds, eight steals and eight assists. Lopez had 11 points and two steals while Maddy Johnson had 10 points and two steals.
DeKalb will play against some of the best teams in the state in the Montini Christmas tournament next week.
"[Davenport] was just telling us to be confident and believe in ourselves because if you have a bad attitude that's how it's going to be so he just helped us move past," Malloy said. "It's a really good result, it helps us."