WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. -- The Mount Greylock girls basketball team Tuesday used a 17-3 run to take control in the second quarter and shut down Taconic in the second half en route to a 48-30 win.
Jenna Benzinger scored 22 points and grabbed 19 rebounds, and Lauren Howard scored 18 with 21 boards as the Mounties’ imposed their will against a normally solid Taconic frontcourt.
“Lauren and I work really well together,” the Brown-bound Benzinger said. “We’ve played a lot together in the summer. I think since we’ve been playing so long together, we feed off each other’s energy. When she makes a good play, I’ll try to respond and vice versa.”
And Benzinger and Howard are clicking, Mount Greylock is tough to beat.
“Their bigs are solid players,” Mounties coach John Jacobbe said of Taconic. “But they had to go up against Jenna a lot in the paint, and and that’s a challenge.
“Offensively, Lauren got a couple of shots going. Once she does that, hopefully, it opens up the middle for Jenna. But I thought our other three players on the floor moved the ball, cut to the basket and got a lot of good looks. That allowed us to get on a good run.”
Benzinger started the decisive run with baskets on three straight trips. First, she hit a field goal from the foul line. Then she got an and-one in the post to tie the game, 14-14. Finally, she scored off an assist from Maddie Albert to give the Mounties their first lead of the game and one they did not relinquish.
Howard hit a 3-pointer and had a conventional three-point play on back-to-back possessions to stretch that lead to 22-14.
Ashley Rufo (team-high eight points) broke stopped a 13-0 run with a 3-pointer for Taconic, but Mount Greylock scored the last four points of the half to take a 26-17 lead into the locker room.
Mount Greylock (11-4) held Taconic (5-8) to just four points in the third quarter. Benzinger had two of her five blocks in the second half, and Sarah Stripp had three steals after the break.
Stripp also had four assists in the win.
Taconic got six points, five rebounds and four assists from Shalee Conyers.
Taconic has its work cut out to qualify for the Western Mass tournament, needing five wins it its last seven games starting with Thursday’s home game against Wahconah.
Mount Greylock has a key Berkshire County South Division showdown Friday against Mount Everett. The first two times the teams met this season, the Mounties won a 58-56 decision in Drury’s Gene Wein Holiday Tournament in double OT and a 61-60 decision in Sheffield.
“It’ll be a battle, but I’m really excited it’s going to be a home game,” Benzinger said. “Hopefully, we’ll get a good crowd so we’ll have that advantage, which is very helpful.”