GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. -- After watching Mount Greylock throw up 12 points in the first five minutes on Tuesday night, Monument Mountain coach Steve Soule was ready to throw down the gauntlet.
"I challenged them," Soule said of his approach during a timeout with 2 minutes, 46 seconds left in the first quarter of the Spartans' Western Mass Division 3 playoff opener.
"We weren't playing our defense. We weren't even playing close to our defense. And we were playing nervous offensively. I had to settle them down on the offensive end and kinf of fire them up on the defensive end."
Soule's players responded to that challenge in a big way.
Monument erased a 12-4 deficit with a 21-1 run and went on to a 58-44 win and a berth in the quarter-finals.
Sarah Sullivan scored 15 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, and Vanessa Troiano scored 13 to lead Monument (13-8), which advances to play second-seeded Granby (20-0) on Friday night.
Lily Cormier came out of the timeout and knocked down a 3-pointer on an assist from Anika Helmke (11 points, 10 rebounds), but it was defense that made the difference in the go-ahead run.
Monument forced the Mounties (11-0) into nine turnovers over the course of about five minutes.
Mount Greylock ended the run when Jenna Benzinger scored two of her game-high 20 to make it 25-15. But whatever momentum that could have generated for the visitors was squashed immediately when starting point guard Arianna Walden dropped to the floor with an ankle injury that ended her night with 3:22 left in the second quarter.
The Mounties were already were playing with their No. 1 scoring threat -- Lucy Barrett -- in just her second game back from a two week layoff from an ankle injury.
The loss of Walden looked possibly signal the end for coach Paul Barrett's team.
"I'm sure Monument came out thinking, 'This game's over. They don't have their point guard,' " Barrett said. "But our girls just dug deep. You couldn't ask for anything more than that."
The Mounites used an 11-0 run of their own to get the lead down to five points, 34-29, when Benzinger sank a pair at the line with 3:13 left in the third quarter.
It was down to four points when Lucy Barrett (10 points) used a conventional three-point play to make it 36-22.
But Monument went on a 14-2 run that wrapped around the third and fourth quarters to re-establish a double-digit advantage. It started with a pair at the line from Helmke and ended with a 3-pointer from Kayla Aberdale (11 points) midway through the fourth to make it 50-34.
Moments later, Barrett drew her fifth foul on a charge call in transition. She made the shot, which would have cut the lead down to 12 points with 2:36 left; instead, it stayed a 14-point margin, and her stellar career ended prematurely.
While Barrett retires as the leading scoreer in Mount Greylock history. The offensive star on Tuesday was 6-foot-3 center Benzinger, who hit three second-half 3s on her way to her 20-point performance. She also stood out at the other end, blocking seven shots -- six in the second half alone.
In the end, Monument had too much of an overall advantage on the front line with Sullivan, Helmke.
"It's a big luxury. I was the assistant coach for the last three years, and our tallest player, I could look eye-to-eye with," the 5-foot-7 Soule said. "So it's different to have some height. But not only are they tall, they're both very good players. They're both skilled. They can both shoot from the outside. They can both take it to the rack.
"They're very good players for freshmen. So we try to dump it into them. If they don't have anything, we have some good outside shooters, too so we kick it out and try to get a little inside-out game working."