St. Mary's gives St. Frances 64-62 lesson

January 11, 1994|By Kevin Eck | Kevin Eck,Contributing Writer

St. Mary's coach Harry Dobson heard the preseason talk.

He knew most of the other Catholic League coaches as well as the media were touting upstart St. Frances as the favorite to end his team's two-year reign as league champion.

"My players' parents even told me St. Frances was going to blow us away," Dobson said.

After yesterday's 64-62 victory over visiting No. 4 St. Frances, however, the fifth-ranked Saints showed they aren't ready to concede anything.

With the win, St. Mary's (12-2, 4-0) gained sole possession of first place and extended its winning streak to 11. The Panthers (12-2), who had won 10 straight going into the game, dropped to 4-1 in the league.

"I thought that they had more talent than us, and I still do," Dobson said. "They have four Division I players. But we won the game. What's more important?"

St. Frances coach Jerome Shelton knows the answer to that question.

"I said all along that the gateway to the Catholic League championship goes through St. Mary's," said Shelton, whose team will get a rematch at home next month. "If we're going to win this thing, we know we have to beat them."

The Saints, who were led by junior center Annetta Davis (19 points, 22 rebounds) and junior guard Kristin Miller (17 points), appeared to have the game won after Miller's three-pointer gave them a 62-54 lead with 1:09 remaining.

"That three-pointer was like a dagger," Shelton said.

But St. Frances wasn't conceding either.

Kortni Webb's tip-in reduced the Panthers' deficit to six, and then Melba Chambers (game-high 28 points) grabbed a defensive rebound and drove the length of the floor to make it 62-58 with 39 seconds left.

After St. Mary's turned over the ball on its next possession, Chambers made two free throws to pull the Panthers within 62-60 with 10 seconds to play.

Miller converted both ends of a one-and-one with nine seconds left to seal the Panthers' fate.

While Shelton's game plan concentrated on stopping Davis and senior point guard Bridget Smith (six points, 10 assists), several others made key contributions.

Saints junior guard Erin Hon (nine points) made two three-pointers and sophomore forward Tara Foran added 13 points and 10 rebounds.

It was Miller, however, who repeatedly came through.

"A lack of court awareness hurt us," Shelton said. "Miller is a set shooter. We wanted to make her put the ball on the floor. But she got open, and to her credit, she made the shots."

St. Mary's did a good job forcing the Panthers to shoot from the perimeter in the third quarter. And when St. Frances did manage to get inside, they had trouble making the shots.

"We got some good looks at the basket," Shelton said. "We got some easy shots. We just didn't make them. That was the difference."

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