Seventh-ranked Howard withstood a scrappy comeback by poor-shooting Glenelg before pulling away to a 58-45 victory in the Howard County league opener for both teams last night at Howard.
The Lions (7-1) had five players with at least eight points, and the No. 13 Gladiators had trouble finding the basket all night. Glenelg (6-3), which never led, made only 15 of 54 shots (28 percent) from the field against Howard's tough zone defense. The Gladiators converted only 15 of 33 free throws.
Despite cold shooting that put them in a 20-6 hole in the second quarter, the Gladiators used tenacious, man-to-man defense to cut Howard's lead to six late in the third period. Howard never allowed them any closer.
"When the ball is not going in, there's nothing you can do," said Glenelg coach Chuck Struhar. "We played hard, but we couldn't buy a basket. "They are a better team than we are, but I think we'll beat them the next time at our place."
Krista Fulton led Howard with 13 points. Raymona Jackson scored 11. Sharon Ford had nine. Emily Petrlik and Camille Powell had eight apiece.
Glenelg's Sarah Jones led all scorers with 17. Debbie Snyder had 10. Jenny Leedom scored eight, and Tanissa Dorsey, the team's leading scorer, scored six -- all in the first half -- before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.
Both teams traded turnovers early, but Glenelg stayed in a shooting funk while the Lions gradually awoke. Howard led 13-6 at the end of the first period, then scored the first seven points of the second period to take a 20-6 lead with 4:16 left in the half. But Glenelg, which made only six baskets in the half and went nearly eight minutes without a point, battled back to within 25-18 at halftime.
Then, early in the third period, Powell went to the bench with her third foul, and Jackson came up limping with a sore knee. Glenelg cut the lead to 37-31 with 1:38 to go on successive 18-footers by Jones.
Ford then led the Lions on a decisive 12-2 run by scoring six points, as the Lions took a 49-33 lead with five minutes left. Jackson scored six points down the stretch to seal the victory.
"We let them [Glenelg] back in the game," said Howard coach Craig O'Connell. "If they hit their foul shots in the first half, it's a whole different game. "When I took Camille [Powell] out, I thought we were in big trouble. But we came back and played real hard."