After a sluggish first half, Science Hill expanded its lead from four to 15 points in a strong third quarter and rode the momentum to a 45-33 victory over Dobyns-Bennett on Friday night at The New Gym.
“I was really proud of our defensive effort,” said Scottie Whaley, whose Lady Hilltoppers (13-7, 6-0) took over sole possession of first place in the conference.
“That’s the type of defensive effort you’ve got to have come tournament time,” Whaley added. “You have to be able to guard, and I thought we did a good job of that.”
D-B’s small and quick guards made things tough on Science Hill’s Kijanae Marion in the post in the early part of the game, poking the ball away and limiting her paint effectiveness.
Neither team was able to muster much of an offensive groove in the first two quarters. Science Hill forged ahead 10-7 after one quarter and took a 16-12 advantage into the locker room.
“Their zone is tough to play against,” Whaley said. “I thought Dobyns-Bennett did a great job in the first half really limiting us.
“We decided in the second half we needed to speed the game up a little bit, so we went to a trapping man-to-man press. It helped our kids get moving a little bit more.”
The Lady Hilltoppers found a crease in the third quarter. Erin Egerbrecht hit a 3-pointer early in the period for Science Hill’s first significant lead at 20-12.
“Sometimes I think we’re waiting for someone to do something,” Egerbrecht said. “I think we just need to go back to being us, and run to the ball and do what we do. That’s what we have to get back to.”
The Lady Hilltoppers took a 34-19 lead into the final quarter.
Alasia Smith did her usual good work for the Lady Hilltoppers, netting 16 points and causing problems on the defensive end. Marion totaled 13 points.
No player reached double digits in scoring for the Lady Indians (16-6, 5-1). It was reflective of a seasonlong battle to produce points.
“We knew coming into the season the two biggest challenges were our size hurts us at times, along with the ability to score,” said Lady Indians coach Bill Francis. “We have a hard time sometimes manufacturing points. We can’t create a lot of stuff on our own, so we have to manufacture things.
“Against teams like Science Hill, that’s hard to do.”