Drury Girls Get Back to Basics in Win Over Greylock
Cassie Lincoln's defensive play with teammates Danielle Racette and Mariah Ferrara kept the Mounties at bay.
Franzoni most likely stressed the fundamentals of defense in practice on Monday because his Blue Devils squad got back to the basics quickly, forcing Mount Greylock into 22 turnovers and holding the Mounties' offense in check on their way to a 38-31 win at the Mountie Dome on Tuesday night.
Led by the swarming perimeter play of guards Danielle Racette, Cassie Lincoln and Mariah Ferrara, Drury (7-2) came up with 14 steals and forced nine more turnovers than they surrendered on the evening. No Greylock player scored in double figures, and the Mounties (2-4) were unable to score more than nine points in any of the four quarters.
"Our defense was definitely a big difference in the game tonight," Lincoln said. "We held [Greylock guard] Sarah Brink to two points, and she's a big player for their team. I think we played team defense tonight, and that's what won us the game."
Lincoln ran into significant foul trouble on Sunday night, and her absence was probably one reason why her team gave up their highest point total of the season against the Generals. With her and Racette playing major minutes against Greylock, Drury was able to keep the ball pressured well past the arc, limiting the hosts' ability to penetrate the paint.
"Danielle and Cassie played just so hard defensively," Franzoni said. "I thought they did a great job, and we got solid minutes off the bench with Mariah Ferrara tonight again. She did a great job for us, and I'm really pleased with her effort the past few games. If we're going to defend people like we did tonight, we're going to beat a lot of people.
The Mounties defense also had a solid night, however, creating a fairly balanced game through four quarters of play. Senior forward Meagan McCarthy (7 points, 6 rebounds) got the Blue Devils out to an early 10-3 lead by scoring three consecutive baskets midway through the first quarter, but the hosts would quickly respond as senior Kim Houston scored six of her team’s next eight points to tie the game at 11 all.
Houston finished with a team-high eight points and a game-high 10 boards, and also did a good job of slowing down Drury's leading scorer, Kelsey Ouimet, holding her to just one basket in the first half. The visitors looked like they would take a comfortable lead into the locker room until junior Catie Benoit hit her second 3-pointer of the night right before the half to cut the Devils' lead to 20-17 at the break.
The third quarter turned out to be the decisive one for Franzoni's squad, which outscored the hosts 13-8 in the frame to open up an eight-point lead heading into the fourth. Racette, who misfired on couple of shots inside the lane in the first half, started coming up with some pretty passes for her teammates. She helped Ouimet get going, setting her up with some good looks deep in the post and assisting her on back-to-back buckets midway through the third quarter. McCarthy also chipped in by stealing the ball and finding a streaking Lincoln up the court for another easy basket, helping Drury stretch a three-point lead into a nine-point advantage late in the frame.
"I think in the beginning of the game we were kind of looking too much for our outside shots," Lincoln said. "Once we settled down and started relying and trusting each other to finish in the paint, it really changed the game because we started to pull away."
"We tried to spread the floor out, and we knew that Danielle is good at creating off of that," Franzoni said. "She did a good job of finding our players that were open inside. She sees the floor very well, and we tell our players that if Danielle is penetrating have your hands ready because she's going to find you and give you a chance to score. I thought Kelsey did a great job of squaring up and finishing tonight, and Meagan gave us some great minutes as well."
In all, Racette scored four of her nine points and dished out three of her team-high four assists in the third quarter alone. Ouimet also came up big in the third, scoring six of her game-high 10 points in the frame. Racette also chipped in with four rebounds and a team-high five steals on the night, while Ouimet grabbed a team-high seven boards, made three steals and dished out three assists.
"I thought we did a decent job with our post defense, but I thought Danielle was the difference," Greylock head coach Paul Barrett said. "I think their strength is penetrating, and she knows how to set up and seal off. Once they started clearing out for her, Drury did a better job defending Sarah than we did defending Danielle."
Both Racette and Ouimet also scored baskets in the fourth quarter, which turned out to be a sloppy one on offense for both teams. Greylock's Siri Mason and Lucy Barrett did their best to keep their team close, scoring a majority of the six points apiece after halftime. But Brink was forced to leave the game with an injury in the fourth quarter, and the Mounties never got any closer than six points the rest of the way.
"[Drury] is a good defensive team and it's predicated on ball pressure up top," Barrett said. "I guess we'll work on some different pressure releases, but we have to be better at handling pressure. That's the bottom line."
The Blue Devils next play at Taconic at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday night.