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Lady Bruins take it to the boards

PRINCETON – When scouting Princeton in the St. Bede Christmas Tournament, St. Bede coach Tom McGunnigal knew his team had to focus on keeping the Tigresses off the offensive boards to be successful.

Not only did his team answer that challenge on Thursday night, they also controlled the offensive glass on their end of the court in a 44-18 victory over the Tigresses at Prouty Gym.

The Lady Bruins (12-11, 2-0) got off to a quick start and didn’t look back as they scored half of their total points in the opening quarter to jump out to a 22-5 lead. In their first quarter surge, they grabbed eight rebounds on the offensive end that led to 10 second chance points.

“Princeton rebounds the ball offensively very, very well,” said McGunnigal. “They crash the boards hard. We wanted to make sure we held them to one and done. We did a pretty decent job of that. Maybe five or six times they got a second shot or multiple shots.”

“We worked hard a lot yesterday in practice on rebounds,” said St. Bede senior center Mo Dean, who had five offensive boards in the first quarter. “That was definitely a big help.”

Dean, who led the Lady Bruins with 14 points and 14 rebounds, finished the opening quarter with six straight points, with two of the field goals coming on second chance shots.

But it was Lydia Stariha who got the Lady Bruins off to a good start by scoring her team’s first six points, capped by a three-point play when she scored inside and was fouled by Sydney Hall 1:40 into the game.

Six different players scored for St. Bede in the opening period as they spread the ball around well with the Tigresses double teaming Dean inside. Laura Sickley, Lexie Miranda, Whitley Funfsinn and Maritsa Hermosillo all chipped in points to put St. Bede up 16-2 with 2:31 left in the first.

“Typical ‘Gunny’ team because he’s got a lot of girls that can do a lot of things,” said Princeton coach Kevin Hieronymus. “This year they have Mo who is obviously a big presence (inside). We held her to 14 which is basically her average. I thought we did well there considering her size advantage. They have enough other weapons that can get you and they did.”

Defensively, the Lady Bruins were just as good, forcing Princeton into 10 turnovers in the period and 29 for the game.

“We played good defensively and put pressure on the ball like we asked them to,” said McGunnigal. “We played into the passing lanes and did a nice job.”

Princeton (4-15, 0-2) tightened up their defense the rest of the way after St. Bede’s hot first quarter, not allowing a field goal in the first seven minutes of the second quarter.

Zoe Mead’s turnaround jumper on the left baseline cut the deficit to 14, but a Dean putback and a banked in three-pointer from Sickley at the halftime buzzer made it 28-9.

Although the Lady Bruins shot just 28 percent for the final three quarters, the Tigresses couldn’t take advantage offensively. Princeton would only tally six points in the middle two quarters as a combination of unforced errors and a tough shooting night contributing to the loss.

“Turnovers have killed us all year,” said Hieronymus. “Some of them were unforced tonight. We get in too much of a hurry I think. Early in the year full court pressure was hurting us. Tonight we really broke it almost every time, but we would get in a hurry when we get into half court and then throw the ball away.”

Emmalee Sears scored six of her team-high nine points in the fourth quarter as the two teams each scored seven points in the period. Sears also led Princeton with 10 rebounds.

In addition to Dean’s double-double, the Lady Bruins got eight points from Stariha. Hermosillo chipped in seven points off the bench.

• Princeton won the sophomore contest 36-25 behind 16 points from Abby Jaques and 14 from Taylor Clark. Tori Parnell was the leading scorer for St. Bede with 13 points.

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