Westminster edges Howard, 56-54

January 05, 1995|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,Contributing Writer

Howard coach Craig O'Connell stood at midcourt yesterday after watching his 14th-ranked Lions fall to No. 13 Westminster, 56-54.

O'Connell glared up at the scoreboard, shook his head, and then like an old angler, lamented about the one that got away.

"Look at that," he said, pointing at the scoreboard. "This was a winnable game. We came out flat and then we tried and tried to recover and then never got over the hump. That's the bottom line."

While two missed shots from high-percentage range in the closing seconds helped keep the Lions from getting over the hump, it was four quarters of all-out hustle by visiting Westminster that had the Lions chasing the lead all night without success.

Westminster (8-0) went up 10-7 on a three-pointer by Cassie Conklin with 4:04 left in the first quarter and never trailed again. The Owls took their biggest lead of the day with eight seconds left in the first quarter as Alyson Young hit a three-pointer, for a 20-11 advantage.

Howard (5-3) missed some easy layups in the second quarter, but didn't lose any more ground and was down 30-22 at the half.

Howard senior Mona Jackson wasn't feeling well and sat out most of the second quarter with two fouls.

The 5-foot-9 forward returned at the start of the second half and immediately made her presence known.

Jackson scored nine of her game-high 25 points in the third quarter and her three-pointer late in the period brought the Lions to within three.

The Owls, winners of last week's Poly tournament, had a five-point lead heading into the fourth quarter and they saw that margin reduced to one when Chanelle Carter hit a jumper with 5:46 remaining.

Every time the Lions closed in, Conklin was there to turn them away. The senior guard scored eight of her team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter, when the Owls needed it most.

"Cassie does a nice job for us both offensively and defensively," said Westminster coach Bernie Koontz. "She does a nice job of handling the basketball for us and she makes things happen."

Howard, which spent part of its holiday break winning the Liberty Belle tournament, was down by only two again with 1:07 remaining after a follow-up by Carter (10 points), but the Lions didn't score again, despite having two of what O'Connell described as, "very makeable shots."

"There were so many opportunities we had to either tie or go ahead by one and we never hit the two shots in a row that you need to get the lead," said O'Connell. "This is one you don't mind losing early in the year. You don't want to lose this one in the regional or state game. Hopefully, this will be a good experience for us and we will learn from it and get better."

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