No. 24 Jessica Koch scored 24 points Saturday, passing Lisa Hughes to become the all-time leading scorer in Western history with 1,751 career points. Hughes’ record stood for 22 years.
“Since freshman year I just wanted to help in any way that I could,” Koch said. “Every summer I wanted to come back better than the year before, and that kind of evolved into my role of trying to put the ball in the bucket.”
Koch broke the record on senior night while snapping a six-game losing streak for the Griffons with the season on the line. The win on Saturday guaranteed the Griffons a spot in the upcoming MIAA tournament in Kansas City, while a loss would have ended the season.
“I’m not sure anyone could have written a script any better than what it was,” coach Lynn Plett said. “As much we wanted it to get out of the way before the last game of the regular season, it ended up being a good thing because she could do it at home with all of the support and everything here.”
“Our main concern was making it to the tournament,” Koch said. “The scoring record was just in the back of my mind. If that didn’t happen, I wasn’t going to be concerned as long as we made it to the tournament.”
Koch is a versatile scorer, capable of scoring from the inside or outside, but scoring isn’t all she can do on the court. She has filled the stat sheet up in every statistical category while improving her numbers in every season of her career as Griffon.
After taking a medical redshirt because of a season-ending knee injury in ’07-’08, Koch was an impact player right away. She bounced back from the injury to win MIAA Freshman of the year in ’08-’09 while starting in all 27 games and leading the team in six statistical categories, including points per game with 12.
Koch’s sophomore season saw her scoring increase to 14.3 points per game while netting a season-high 26 points against Quincy and being selected as an honorable mention all-MIAA performer. She also hit the glass, averaging 7.3 rebounds per game.
As a junior she was selected as a second-team all-MIAA performer after she averaged 16.6 points per game, scoring in double figures in every game but one. She also led the team in steals, assists, and rebounds. She scored a season-high 31 points against Nebraska-Omaha on Feb. 9, 2011.
Koch has upped her scoring average once again as a senior, scoring 21.9 points per game and being named first-team all-MIAA. She also leads the Griffons in rebounds, steals, blocks and assists and put in a career-high 38 points at Southwest Baptist, scored 33 at Emporia State, 31 at No. 13 Arkansas Tech and 30 at Nebraska-Omaha.
“Every single time I step on to the floor my thing is that I need to play hard,” Koch said. “The scoring just kind of goes with that. As long as you play hard other stuff is going to come. Some nights you might not be scoring as well as other nights and that happens, but as long as you play hard it’s going to be a good game.”
Koch is relieved to have the pressure of breaking the scoring record and getting to the tournament off her back. She is ready to lead her team into battle on March 1 against Washburn in Kansas City, Mo.