8th-ranked Howard routs Liberty for fifth straight win, 49-28

January 12, 1993|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

In its final tuneup for a challenging county schedule, Howard showed a few glitches last night, but the Lions easily handled a Liberty team they were expected to beat.

The eighth-ranked Lions, who whipped Liberty by 22 points two weeks ago in the Liberty Belle Tournament, relied on what they do best. They attacked visiting Liberty from the outset with full-court pressure, scored the game's first 11 points, forced 30 turnovers through the first three quarters to lead by 30, then coasted to a 49-28 win.

Howard (7-2) won its fifth straight game and had three players reach double figures in scoring. The Lions also held Amy Wolff, Liberty's top scorer, to seven points.

Mona Jackson led Howard with 17 points. Teammates Camille Powell (15 points) and Sharon Ford (11 points) gave Liberty more headaches.

"Howard is much more polished than we are," Liberty (5-5) coach Tom Delise said. "We're still having trouble with the fundamentals of the game. We're still taking terrible shots. I can't be upset with the effort, though. It's hard to feel good about a 20-point loss, but I feel a little bit better this time [compared to the other loss to Howard]."

Even while winning impressively, Howard showed signs of trouble. Although its man-to-man defense created countless transition baskets, the Lions repeatedly missed layups and open jumpers, especially in the first half. Their outside shooting was erratic throughout. And in the fourth quarter, when Howard coach Craig O'Connell went to his bench, the Lions put up their share of ill-advised shots.

"We're still not finishing our layups and that's going to be a problem when we play good teams like Mount Hebron and Hammond," Powell said. "But we are playing really, really hard."

No one on Howard's team is playing harder than Powell. In addition to scoring all 15 of her points in the second and third periods, she grabbed five rebounds and constantly harassed Liberty's ballhandlers by producing 11 steals and forcing numerous other turnovers.

The Lions' defense, much like it did two weeks ago when Howard opened with a 17-4 run against Liberty, quickly set the rTC tone. It took Liberty more than three minutes to get off its first shot against Howard's full-court press. While Liberty was throwing the ball away or walking into Howard's traps, the Lions rolled to an 11-0 lead.

But in the final three minutes of the first period, Howard missed a handful of layups. Meanwhile, Liberty managed to close the gap to 11-6 at quarter's end.

"Just working hard isn't enough if you want to win in this county," O'Connell said. "We not only have to play hard, but we have to pick up our skill level if we want to compete in the county."

The Lions picked up their skill level considerably after the first quarter. Jackson started the second period with a steal and a nice feed inside to Emily Moore (four points, five rebounds), who converted a short jump shot. Jackson then made a layup, and grabbed an offensive rebound before banking in a short jumper.

After Wolff scored her first point of the game from the free-throw line, Powell hit a three-pointer to make it 20-9 with 5:07 left in the half. Powell scored the last four points of the half to give Howard a 26-9 lead at intermission.

The Lions looked sharpest in the third period. With their defense and shooting clicking, Howard opened with a 10-0 run, then drew off to a 45-15 lead at the end of the quarter.

Dani Fostik led Liberty with 12 points, before leaving the game with three minutes left because of a sprained ankle.

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