St. Frances rebounds, ends loss streak against Spalding Panthers dominate boards in 57-41 win over flat Cavs

Girls basketball

January 24, 1998|By Rich Scherr | Rich Scherr,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

In a season that began with such promise, as well as a 10-game winning streak, St. Frances limped into last night's Catholic League game against No. 16 Archbishop Spalding. The Panthers were hoping simply to stay afloat in the standings.

After losing four straight, however, the players weren't about to abandon ship. "We weren't losing five in a row," said guard Shanell Watson.

Watson and teammate Keyonna Maynard each scored 13 points, and the 13th-ranked Panthers dominated the boards all night in a 57-41 win at the College of Notre Dame.

"We were tired of losing," said the Panthers' Lashawna Rice, who finished with 11. "We just had to pull together and handle it emotionally, physically and mentally."

Said Watson: "We lost games that we could have won. We had to win this one."

The same defense that had failed St. Frances (13-5 overall, 3-2 in the league) in previous games was dominant at times against Spalding (13-8, 3-4), holding the Cavaliers to 24 percent shooting.

But even a bigger factor, perhaps, was rebounding, in which the Panthers held a 62-39 advantage, including 30 on the offensive end.

St. Frances' aggressiveness on the boards time and again gave them three or four opportunities per possession, while limiting Spalding to one shot on the majority of theirs.

"That's two games in a row we've absolutely been dominated on the boards, and if we don't rebound, we can't compete," said Cavaliers coach Deb Taylor, who added that recent exams may have taken a toll on her team.

"We came out extremely flat," she said. "You could just see it in the shoot-around. It certainly wasn't one of our better efforts."

St. Frances controlled the game early, taking a 19-11 lead following Rice's long jumper in the opening moments of the second quarter.

Led by forwards Jen Butterwei (13 points) and Janet Harmel (nine), the Cavaliers rallied to pull within striking distance by the end of the first half, and made it 25-23 when Harmel hit a three-pointer 20 seconds into the third quarter.

That was as close as Archbishop Spalding would get.

Over the next five minutes, St. Frances turned up the intensity on defense and began to make shots, using a 10-2 run to build their lead to 35-25 near the end of the third quarter.

Spalding struggled mightily on offense throughout the second half, connecting on just five baskets in the final 15: 40.

"[St. Frances] played with a lot of confidence," said Taylor.

Said Rice: "We needed this one."

The win was crucial for St. Frances, which began the day with fTC two league losses and couldn't afford another if it were to have any chance to catch league leaders St. Mary's and Mercy.

Following their dismal performance Thursday in a 49-36 loss to Frederick's St. John's at Prospect Hall, players said they were just happy to get back on track.

Though the Panthers' shooting percentage was mediocre at best, their presence under the boards proved the equalizer. What's more, they committed 14 turnovers -- fewer than usual.

Pub Date: 1/24/98

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