60-55 victory helps salve a wounded St. Frances

Beating Riverdale Baptist helps dim Friday memory

Girls basketball

High Schools

December 14, 2003|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN STAFF

It seems a bit premature to label the third game of a 25-plus-game season a must win.

But don't tell that to the St. Frances girls team, which pointed to last night's game with highly touted Riverdale Baptist of Upper Marlboro as a game it absolutely had to have.

And the urgency showed, as the top-ranked Panthers overcame a 10-point halftime deficit behind forward Angel McCoughtry to beat the Crusaders, 60-55, in the last game of the She's Got Game Mixer hosted by Western.

Still smarting from a 14-point defeat by St. Johns (D.C.) on Friday in a game in which they turned the ball over 27 times, the Panthers (2-1) gained some redemption last night.

Said St. Frances coach Jerome Shelton: "We felt like this was a game where we had something to prove."

"We just had to win this game," said senior forward Camille Coleman, who had eight points, including a 6-of-6 stretch from the foul line down the stretch. "We had to prove we're the No. 1 team in the area. We just had an off night [Friday], but we feel real good about this win right now."

The Panthers have every reason to feel good. The Crusaders (7-2), who beat St. Frances by six points last season, are the No. 2-ranked team in The Washington Post and have four players headed to Division I programs.

Included on that list is Duke-bound Wanisha Smith, a 6-foot guard. McCoughtry, the All-Metro Player of the Year last season who has committed to St. John's, was energized for the matchup, though the two rarely went head-to-head last night.

McCoughtry was outstanding, scoring 29 points to go along with 13 rebounds, three steals and two blocks. Seemingly more intent on getting her teammates involved, Smith had 12 points before fouling out with 3:07 to play.

"When you have a player that's top-notch like that, you have to step up or they'll tear you up," said McCoughtry.

It was McCoughtry, who scored 19 of her 29 in the second half, and a swarming defense that gave the Panthers a lift after they trailed 34-24 at halftime.

St. Frances, which also got 14 points from senior guard Shadae Swan, started the third quarter on a 10-0 run, earning its first lead of the game when McCoughtry laid in a nifty pass from Tamara Rogers with 3:20 to play in the period.

Riverdale Baptist, which lost center Nina Uqdah to an ankle injury early in the game, didn't get its first basket of the quarter until the 2:30 mark, when Demauria Liles (15 points) scored.

Trailing 48-43 early in the fourth, the Panthers engineered a 10-0 run, sparked by six free throws from Coleman, to take a 53-48 lead with 2:07 left in the game.

McCoughtry sealed matters with a driving layup and a short jumper for a 58-52 St. Frances lead with less than a minute left.

"After [Friday], I really wanted us to play better," said Shelton. "To get this one today, it's really satisfying."

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