Towson Catholic got off to a terrible start in last night's Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference game with McDonogh. But the Owls finished much better.
Marah Strickland made four key free throws in the final 2:05 to help No. 3 Towson Catholic rally from an early 12-point deficit and pull out a 59-50 victory over No. 2 McDonogh. The host Owls scored the game's final eight points and held the Eagles to two baskets in the final 5:36.
Towson Catholic (2-1, 2-0 league) did a good job of taking command after a slow start and showed poise in the final minutes. The Owls outscored McDonogh, 16-9, in the fourth quarter and controlled the game - even when the Eagles tied the game twice. Ronneice Kirby (11 points) and Gabrielle Styles (eight points) also helped with big plays at both ends.
"It just took a little time," Towson Catholic coach Matt Fisher said. "We work hard at discipline in practice, and we're staying under control."
The Owls made six of eight free throws after McDonogh's Brittany Mallory (21 points) sliced their lead to 51-50 on a three-pointer with 2:12 left.
Strickland led the Owls with 17 points and hit both free throws to give Towson Catholic a 53-50 lead with 2:05 left. She then made a free throw with 30 seconds left and another with 11 seconds left for a 57-50 edge.
"This is our third game, and we're starting to feel the flow," said Strickland, a transfer from St. John's at Prospect Hall and one of the area's top players. "[We're] starting to pull together now ... playing together as a team definitely brought us this win."
McDonogh (1-2, 1-1) appeared in command early, making five of its first eight shots from the field and jumping out to a 14-2 lead with just over two minutes left in the first quarter. The Eagles weren't having trouble at either end until the Owls stepped up the pace.
Towson Catholic then reeled off 10 straight points and later took a 28-19 lead with 35 seconds left on an India Jones follow-up. But Mallory scored five quick points to cut it to 28-24 at halftime.
McDonogh stayed close in the second half, thanks mainly to the play of Mallory, Becky Cox (11 points), Anastasia Wynn (10 points) and Samantha Frost (eight points). But the Eagles struggled at the foul line, making just 11 of 20. Towson Catholic, meanwhile, made 18 of 23 free throws.
"It was a game of runs," said McDonogh coach Tom Gizzi. "I knew it was going to be a battle until the very end. There's no excuses."