No. 4 Hammond downs Howard

February 04, 1993|By Gary Lambrecht | Gary Lambrecht,Staff Writer

Even on their subpar nights, the Hammond Golden Bears have enough strengths to give most opponents a hard time.

Last night, against the visiting Howard Lions, the Bears (12-3, 6-1) broke out their familiar weapons -- height, quickness, depth. And, to coach Joe Russo's delight, they ended a shooting slump with a hot display in the first half.

That combination helped No. 4 Hammond take control of No. 9 Howard with a 20-point first quarter, then roll to a 58-44 victory.

"This is a real boost for us. Tonight, I think we played the best game offensively that we've played all year," said Russo.

Hammond got started early, shooting 62 percent (18-for-29) in the first half to take a 36-18 halftime lead.

It was as close to a picture-perfect half as a coach could want. Hammond's transition offense ran smoothly from the opening tip-off. The Bears beat the Lions (11-4, 5-2) down low for layups and hit shots from the baseline, the paint and the perimeter. When their first shots didn't fall, the taller Bears grabbed offensive rebounds and made their follow-ups count.

Hammond kept up the pressure in the third quarter, when its lead ballooned to 47-25.

The Lions fell into a 20-8 hole by hitting only two of 15 field-goal attempts in the first quarter, and they forced shots repeatedly after that. They didn't regain their touch until the outcome had been decided.

Trailing by 22 points to start the fourth quarter, Howard went to its full-court press successfully, and produced a 17-5 run to close Hammond's lead to 52-42 with 1:25 left.

The Bears, who never trailed, made six of nine free throws down the stretch to secure the victory.

"They [Hammond] took us out of our offense. They forced us to do what they wanted us to do. Too many horses," Howard coach Craig O'Connell said. "We didn't rebound, but I've got guards trying to play forward. I thought we could push the ball against them, but they pushed the ball down our throats. We got beat by a better team."

Seven Hammond players scored, four of them in double figures. Tameka Harrison and Sonia Keiner led the team with 12 points each. Kacy Williams and Kristen Moraz each had 11.

Howard's Emily Moore led all scorers with 14. Camille Powell, playing for the first time since spraining her ankle against Mount Hebron two weeks ago, scored nine.

In addition to their hot shooting hands, the Bears dominated the boards. They grabbed 47 rebounds, including 18 on the offensive end. Williams had 10 rebounds and five assists. Keiner had nine rebounds. Moraz added seven rebounds and six assists. Kellye Townsend had eight rebounds off the bench.

Hammond set the tone by hitting three of its first four shots to take a 6-0 lead, but the Lions quickly tied the score on jumpers by Moore and Powell. After that, Howard went into a shooting drought, while Hammond caught fire.

Over the next four minutes, the Bears scored on every possession and ran off 14 unanswered points to take a 20-6 lead with 23 seconds left in the quarter. Howard never recovered.

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