Late spurt vaults Key over Liberty Eagles even record at 1-1 with 39-33 win over Lions

December 08, 1998|By John W. Stewart | John W. Stewart,SUN STAFF

A five-point Francis Scott Key burst in less than a minute, more than it had scored in the previous eight minutes, proved to be decisive, as the Eagles defeated visiting Liberty last night, 39-33.

Senior guard Sindi Stem did most of the damage, hitting her team's only three-point basket of the night for a 36-29 lead, then feeding Melissa Merson on the baseline. The 5-foot-10 senior forward drove the line for a layup and a nine-point margin with four minutes left.

Those final minutes were a succession of missed shots -- free and otherwise -- and turnovers. Key's only point was a foul shot by Samantha Stambaugh, while Liberty, in position to challenge for the lead, missed several open shots and went scoreless from the field.

The Lions had their problems at the line, too, missing five in a row in one stretch, and making only two of their last 10 chances.

The outcome evened the records for both teams at 1-1. Liberty had opened with a 47-42 victory over Long Reach, and Key had lost to North Carroll, 50-45.

lTC Key coach Alice Smith had seen her team seemingly set a tone for the game with a 13-2 run that produced a 25-17 halftime lead, but the Eagles ran into the same myopic problems that plagued Liberty.

Smith summed up the situation for both teams when she said: "It's early. You can't teach everybody everything right at the start."

Still, she was able to say: "I saw lots of improvement from the other night, especially our offensive rebounds. We worked the ball better, and our rebounding not only gave us second chances, but our aggressiveness on the boards carried over, as we were aggressive in our press."

Liberty coach Dave Trumbo said: "We had every opportunity to win it.

"Against Long Reach, we played hard and our defense was excellent. Here, we didn't play hard. I know it; the players know it."

After going scoreless for the last three minutes of the first quarter to fall behind, Liberty's offense for the last five minutes of the second quarter consisted of two foul shots by Abby Barnett.

In those last five minutes, Key forced nine turnovers, and Liberty missed its four shots from the field.

Stem orchestrated Key's game plan, and ended with 11 points and five steals. Merson had eight points and 10 rebounds. Colleen Cox led Liberty with nine points, followed by an ailing Michelle Allen with eight.

Pub Date: 12/08/98

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