Western shoots down Pa. power

February 19, 1993|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,Contributing Writer

The University City (Pa.) girls basketball team showed up more than an hour late yesterday at Western.

Its offense, however, didn't arrive until the second half.

The top-ranked Doves (21-0) forced 16 turnovers and held their Philadelphia opponent to 12-for-37 shooting in the first half, opening a 13-point lead at the break and holding on for a 72-63 win.

"We just tried to stay focused," Western guard Chanel Wright said of the delay. "It gave us more time to think about what we wanted to do."

For Wright, at least, the extra preparation paid off.

The sophomore scored a game-high 29 points -- on 13-for-20 shooting -- and had 12 rebounds and three steals.

But University City held its own, cutting a 16-point deficit to eight late in the third quarter.

The Cougars, 20-3 and ranked No. 7 in southeastern Pennsylvania by the Philadelphia Inquirer, gave Western its toughest test, using their front-court height advantage to score easy baskets in the lane.

The Doves' nine-point victory margin was their smallest of the season. For coach Breezy Bishop, however, it wasn't quite small enough.

"It's great that they gave us a good game, but I was hoping they'd beat us," said Bishop, whose team, ranked 17th by USA Today, won't play again until the Class 4A, Region II playoffs. "I was hoping they'd give us a spanking before regionals. I wanted to see how we'd react.

"We've been challenged twice this season, and each time we were able to come through."

After missing nine of their first 10 shots, the Doves began to click, using full-court pressure to force three straight University City turnovers and take an 8-1 lead.

That was the story for most of the first half, as Western forced eight turnovers in each quarter and built a 39-26 halftime lead.

But the Cougars battled back, cutting the lead to single digits three times in the third quarter. Six-foot-five center Denique Graves (16 points) scored frequently in the paint, while 6-2 freshman Shawnitta Stewart (24 points) did most of her damage from the outside.

Down the stretch, though, Western was too strong, opening the lead to as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter before holding off a late surge for the win.

University City coach Lurline Jones said that Western's quickness on defense presented a big problem. She said the referee's whistle, however, caused an even larger one.

The Cougars were called for 14 fouls, to Western's three, in the first half.

"Western's a good team, but 14 fouls to three? That's a big difference," said Jones, who picked up concurrent technical fouls after arguing a call early in the second half.

"That just changed the complexion of the game. Some of those calls really upset me."

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