WOONSOCKET â€” Hope High eventually found a way to slow down Maria Saia and her Mount St. Charles teammates in the first half.
The Blue Wave werenâ€™t quite so lucky in the second half.
A strong spurt to begin action after the break broke open a tight game and enabled the first-place Mounties to enjoy Senior Night with a 58-44 victory over Hope in their Division II-North contest on Friday. Saia, one of seven seniors on this yearâ€™s squad, finished with a double-double, scoring 22 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Senior teammate Adrianna Maurano chipped in 14.
The Mounties improved to 16-1 in the league with just a home tilt on Monday against Classical remaining on their league slate. In its last contest with the Purple this past Tuesday MSC rallied from a 12-point deficit at the half to post a 52-44 win.
â€śWith it being Senior Night, tonight was easy as far as motivation,â€ť said Mount coach Nina Morey. â€śMonday may be a little more difficult.â€ť
The way last nightâ€™s game began, it looked as though the end result would turn out similar to the last time the two schools met when Mount cruised to a 50-27 verdict on Jan. 20. The Mounties scored the first 10 points and held an 18-5 lead by the midway point of the first half. Saia scored all eight of her 12 points during that stretch.
Hope, particularly diminutive senior Mikaela Garvin, didnâ€™t back down. With a pair of three-pointers by Garvin, who tied game-high scoring honors with 22 points, the Blue Wave rattled off eight unanswered points. Those initial points fueled a 17-4 run the remainder of the half to deadlock the score at 22 by the last buzzer.
Mount made just 31 percent of its shots from the field in the half, hitting nine of 29. The Mounties were a dismal one for seven from the free-throw line.
â€śI think we may have let up a little bit and tried to force things on the offense; not taking our time and trying to just shoot the first shot,â€ť Morey said. â€śThis is a good team. You canâ€™t do that against them. They have some really good players who will take advantage of that, which they did.â€ť
â€śWe came out pretty flat and then we actually picked it up a bit,â€ť admitted Hope coach Gloria Patterson, who squad finished its league season at 12-6. â€śThe girls started executing and playing well as a team.â€ť
Hope took it first (and last) lead at the start of the second half on a bucket from senior Valerie Arc. Saia and the Mounties took over the tempo from there.
In less than four minutes, the Mounties out-scored their rival by a convincing 13-2 margin with Saia scoring seven points. She capped the quick streak with a put-back to give Mount a 35-26 advantage with still 11:42 left.
Saia would net seven more points to finish with 14 for the half. She rebounded nicely from the first half where she was held scoreless the final 10:30.
â€śSheâ€™s a smart player,â€ť Morey said. â€śSheâ€™ll do what she does and then teams will adjust to her and sheâ€™ll adjust to what they are doing. Sheâ€™ll be able to come back and score again. Sheâ€™s a very smart basketball player.â€ť
Hope managed to whittle the deficit to as low as four points (48-44) with 1:34 left on the clock. The Mounties would score the final 10 points with six of those coming from the charity stripe.
After their contest with Classical, the Mounties will have a few days off before battling Warwick in an opening round game of the playoffs on Thursday at their home court.
HOPE (44) â€“ Mikaela Garvin 8 3-9 22, Chelsey DaCruz 4 3-3 13, Valerie Arce 2 0-0 4, Brittani Fortes 1 0-0 3, Katja Neves 1 0-0 2, Maiya Monteiro 0 0-3 0. Totals â€“ 16 6-12 44
MOUNT (58) â€“ Tara Murray 1 0-0 2, Nicole Grinsell 3 0-0 6, Adrianna Maurano 5 3-6 14, Taylor Messier 1 1-2 3, Paige LaBreche 0 2-4 2, Alyssa Rossi 3 1-4 7, Lauren Mallon 0 0-2 0, Maria Saia 9 4-6 22, Noreen Mulledy 0 0-1 0. Totals â€“ 22 11-25 58
Halftime â€“ 22-22. 3-point goals â€“ H (6) Garvin 3, DaCruz 2, Fortes. MSC (1): Maurano.