No. 9 Hammond wipes up on Atholton, 50-28

January 19, 1996|By Chuck Acquisto | Chuck Acquisto,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Hammond coach Joe Russo admits he still has not mastered the art of biting his tongue on game officials' calls. So Russo chomps on a white towel a la Fresno State University coach Jerry Tarkanian.

After nearly a two-week layoff because of the weather, No. 9 Hammond and Russo's towel had little trouble yesterday with No. 20 Atholton, 50-28.

Hammond (8-3, 2-1) exploited its frontcourt advantage against the Raiders' pressure, passing over Atholton's half-court traps for easy layups. Golden Bears junior center and leading scorer Rene Hines (20 ppg) led all scorers with 17 points and six rebounds, while senior teammate Kellye Townsend tossed in 16 points to go with 14 rebounds.

"I thought we played our best defensive game so far, mixing up the looks we gave Atholton," said Russo, whose team limited Atholton (6-3, 1-2) to 12 field goals and forced seven fourth-quarter turnovers.

"Obviously, we tried to shut down Aisha Walcott by double-teaming her at times, and I think that really took Atholton out of its offensive game."

Walcott, who came into the game averaging 20.1 points, paced the Raiders with 15 points. However, Walcott was limited to six second-half points and notched Atholton's only field goal of the fourth quarter with 3:58 left.

"Our mind-set went back to last year. We're thinking of Hammond as a state champion and I don't think everyone on our team believed we could beat them," said Walcott.

Hammond's frontcourt trio of Hines, Townsend and junior forward Nicole Owe (eight rebounds) owned the backboards, giving the Golden Bears a 38-23 rebounding edge. The three helped the Bears bump a 34-24 lead going into the fourth quarter to a 42-24 advantage.

"We were really patient and worked the ball inside, looking for the post," Hines said.

A 15-2 run by Hammond -- spurred by Hines and Townsend each scoring six points -- helped the Eagles to a 25-16 halftime advantage.

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