St. Mary's senior guard Randall Goldsborough had trouble explaining how her team had let an initial eight-point lead plummet to a 58-53 loss Friday.
Perhaps three victories in one week was just too much to ask of her teammates on the Saints' basketball squad, especially when the third team is defending Class 4A state champion Old Mill.
Or maybe the Saints (3-1), who jumped out to an early 12-4 first-quarter lead, were banking too heavily on catching the visiting Patriots cold. That's not a bad gamble this early in the season. After all, Coach Pat Chance admitted her Patriots had played poorly in their season-opening 65-31 victory over Thomas Johnson.
The Patriots (2-0) outscored the Saints, 16-6, in the second period, turning St. Mary's 16-11 first-period lead into a 27-22 halftime deficit.
"I think when they started coming back, we just got spooked," said Goldsborough, who scored a team-high 13 points, including three three-pointers. "I think we just started thinking about it too much. Then, it just haunted us for the rest of the game."
St. Mary's handed last year's Patriots (24-2) one of their losses, but in this game the Patriots took advantage of a significant rebounding edge in the first half.
"It was our rebounds that did it," said Chance, whose team was playingwithout senior Cindy Davenport, who was ill.
"I thought our girlsresponded well to the pressure of our first tough game. Maybe it's because of our state championship experience that we didn't worry whenwe got down."
Through it all, however, the Patriots simply continued to pound the boards behind junior post players Anne Chicorelli (19 rebounds) and Debbie Dawson and Allison Wentworth (each with 13). Despite missing plenty of first attempts, the 6-foot Dawson (a team-high 16 points), 6-0 Chicorelli (nine) and 5-10 Wentworth (eight) scored off of put-backs.
"We just kept on putting them up, because we knew they would fall, sooner or later," said Dawson.
St. Mary's players like 5-11 senior Amy Mikula (11 points, eight rebounds), 6-2 Kristin Flewelling (four, seven) and Kristin Manning (seven, six) were continually out-hustled or out-muscled for the ball. Nicole Borgeois scored seven points.
"And we were ready for what they were going todo offensively, because we practiced against it," said Dawson. "Theytried isolation plays with their guards (Goldsborough and sophomore Bridget Smith), but we didn't let them do that too many times."
Goldsborough had the first seven of her team's points, but was held scoreless in the second period. She didn't tally again until the third, when her second three-pointer pulled her squad to within 33-27.
Twice in the second quarter, Old Mill's point guard/forward Stacy Himes(10 points, nine assists) Himes hauled down rebounds and dribbled a few times before lofting outlet passes for buckets. The first went toDawson, the second to Chicorelli.
Old Mill guard Chris Baer (eight points) scored seven of the Patriots' 13 points in the third period. Her three-pointer gave Old Mill its biggest lead, 41-29, with 3 minutes, 11 seconds left.
"Anyone on our team can come in and contribute," said Wentworth. "It doesn't matter who."
St. Mary's came within six points (57-51) on Goldsborough's final three-pointer with 16.5 seconds left in the game, and within five when Bourgeois made her team's final points on two free throws to end the game.
The Saints,under first-year coach Harry Dobson, compete in the Baltimore Catholic League, where they finished 19-9 a year ago. And having blasted both Mount de Sales, 57-34, Thursday, and No. 13 Mercy, 60-48, Monday, they'll try to put their first setback behind them.
"This is the type of game we can learn from. It's tough, and it doesn't count toward our league standings," said Goldsborough. "It won't really hurt anything but our pride."