WOONSOCKET --- Woonsocket High did something on Tuesday that only one other team was able to do to Bay View Academy this season -- give the mighty Bengals a competitive battle.
Unfortunately for the Villa Novans, their strong effort couldn’t not fetch them a win over the unbeaten Bengals, who bused home with their 14th Division I-North triumph, 54-40, on Woonsocket’s “Women In Sports” night at Savaria Gymnasium.
The Bengals, who handed the Novans their worst defeat in recent memory, a 70-31 rout on Jan. 4 in East Providence, appeared to well be on their way to another lopsided verdict when they rolled to a 35-18 lead at halftime.
But the visitors were never able to hike their lead into the 20s in the second half, and the Villa Novans actually cut their deficit to a dozen twice midway through the second half before ending up with their 14-point loss.
“Bay View is very talented,” said Woonsocket coach George Coderre, whose team saw its six-game win streak snapped and dropped to 9-4 in the division, good for a tie for second place with Barrington. “They’re quick, they’re big, and they’re a nightmare matchup for us.
“We got rattled in the first half, which is what we didn’t want to happen, but we regrouped at halftime. We got a little bit upset with ourselves, and we said, ‘Let’s win the second half. Let’s chip away and make some progress, and let’s start executing better.’ And I thought we did a better job of that.”
The Bengals, who had seized 12 of their 14 division games by more than 22 points, opened the game with a 9-2 run, but the Novans did their best to hang with their visitors for the rest of the first half.
They got to within four of the Bengals (15-11) on a three-pointer by Michelle Brayboy and a pull-up jumper by Caitlyn Marcoux with 8:08 to play, but the Bengals responded with 11 of the next 14 points to take its first double-digit lead and keep it there.
But when the second half started, the Villa Novans quickly struck with back-to-back baskets from Kailey Fugere (18 points), and the Bengals were never able to take more than a 17-point lead the rest of the way.
“We managed to hang within range, so that’s a confidence builder,” Coderre added. “That was important for us to know that if we settle down, we can be competitive.”
The Bengals, who were led by Rachel Battista’s game-high 19 points, had a splendid night on the boards and limited the Novans’ team total to a season-low 23, seven coming from Fugere. They also ended the night with just nine turnovers (two in the first half), while the Novans had 17.
In addition to Fugere’s fine performance, Woonsocket also got nine points on three three-pointers by Brayboy and seven assists from Caitlyn Marcoux.
The Novans are back at home on Friday with a 7 p.m. contest against nearby Cumberland, and on Monday at 7, they will take to the road to battle another Blackstone Valley team in East Providence.
BAY VIEW (54) – Hannah Lee 0 0-0 0, Nina Anastacio 1 0-0 2, Vandell Andrade 1 0-0 2, Rachel Battista 8 0-0 19, Johanna Dombrowski 2 1-2 6, Yasmeen Luna 3 2-2 8, Megan Martin 1 0-0 2, Christina Palavra 6 0-0 12, Mackenzie Smith 0 0-0 0, Raquel Pederzani 1 0-0 2. Totals: 24 3-4 54.
WOONSOCKET (40) – Kailey Fugere 9 0-3 18, Michelle Brayboy 3 0-0 9, Caitlyn Marcoux 2 0-0 4, Allyson Cartier 0 0-0 0, Shade Olowookere 2 0-0 5, Amanda Sloan 1 2-2 4, Andrea Moyen 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 2-5 40.
Halftime: Bay View, 35-18. Three-point field goals: Bay View 4 (Battista 3, Dombrowski), Woonsocket 4 (Brayboy 3, Olowookere).