EAST PROVIDENCE - After sweating out back-to-back nailbiters that weren’t decided until the final seconds, East Providence was able to relax a bit on Thursday night and enjoy a blowout victory.
Sparked by a game-high 17 points from Mary Monagle and 14 points and as many rebounds by Taylor Wiggins, the Townies, who are back in Division II after a two-year stint in Division I, ran their young league record to 2-0 by rolling to a 58-38 crossover victory over Burrillville on their home floor.
The Townies, who kicked off their season last Friday with a 45-43 Injury Fund loss to Division I Portsmouth, and two days ago, netted a 47-44 victory over Lincoln, found themselves in another close battle with the Broncos for most of the first half.
With 4:30 on the clock, the Townies owned a 20-18 lead, but at that point, they threw a full-court press on the Broncos that saw the visitors turn the ball over four times and E.P. rattle off the next 12 points to take a double-digit command they never relinquished.
“The kids did a nice job with the press,” added E.P. coach Mike Solitro. “It’s something I’m not fully confident in using right now, but they did a nice job, and for the most part, that kind of gave us the separation that we needed.”
The Townies went into the break up by 11 (36-25), and after the Broncos’ Alyssa Lemire opened the second half with an open jumper, the hosts quickly came back with the next eight points, and they claimed their largest lead of the night (58-32) in the final minutes on back-to-back layups by Lindsee Allienello.
“I thought defensively we were very, very soft in the first half,” offered Solitro. “I kind of got on them at halftime and they turned it around a little bit in the second half. We didn’t really change defenses, we just changed our intensity.”
While the Townies got a lift from their defense, they also got a spark from Monagle, who scored just two points in each of the Townies’ first two games and was forced to leave the game against Lincoln with an ankle injury.
But Monagle showed little signs of wear and tear on this night, especially in the first half, where she scored 12 of her points. She also finished the night with five steals and as many assists.
“She wasn’t even supposed to play today,” said Solitro. “We were wondering if she was going to play because she hurt her ankle last game, but she came out and she sparked us.”
Thomeeka Speaks also had eight points and six steals for the Townies, and Allienello also dished out five assists and played well defensively.
Those performances were just some of the highlights in a contest that clearly resembled an early-season game. Both teams not only teamed up to commit 38 fouls (22 by the Townies), but they also totaled 51 turnovers (28 by the Broncos).
And while those turnovers were plenty for the Broncos, so were their misses from the free-throw stripe, where they shot an unusually-low 42 percent (13-for-31).
“We were hurting ourselves,” said Burrillville coach Lindsay Rachlow, whose crew was playing in its Division II opener after beating North Smithfield in an Injury Fund game last Friday. “We had a lot of turnovers, we couldn’t hit anything from the free-throw line, and we didn’t have any type of momentum until the last five minutes of the game.”
Tori Libby’s 10 points and Lemire’s eight led the Broncos.
“It’s a tough loss, but I’m not worried,” offered Rachlow. “I knew we were playing a good team tonight. It tells us exactly where we stand and what we need to work on.”