Trailing 34-30 with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter, the Lady Flyers kept their perfect record intact by closing out the game ona 7-0 scoring run for a 37-34 win over the host Big Red.
St. Paul — which improved to 4-0 overall and 1-0 in the FC — seemed to have the game in firm control as they went into the halftime with a 17-12 lead.
The Lady Flyers were struggling to put the ball in the basket, but thanks to a suffocating defense, they were able to control the action and never seemed to lose control.
But then Plymouth heated up on offense in a big way, as the BIg Red went on an 18-point run to take a 30-21 lead.
St. Paul was able to chip away at the lead until it got within four points, down 34-30 with just over a minute left in the game.
That’s when Danielle Smith took over and drilled a 3-pointer, then came up with a steal at midcourt that she took straight to the hoop to give her team the lead for good at 35-34.
“Tonight was one of those nights where we couldn’t throw a stone into the ocean,” St. Paul coach Vicky Mahl said. “I don’t know why that happens, but it happens sometimes and they were able to fight back after having a third quarter that I would like to forget about. That showed a lot of resilience and resolve out of them.”
Mahl said she told her team to just keep shooting the basketball during the scoring drought.
“I just told the girls that they can’t worry about the shots not going down,” she said. “Just keep shooting it. We knew going in that Plymouth was a lot better team than what their record would suggest, and we knew it was going to be a fight if we were to get a win.
“It’s a good conference win and we can’t rest, because we have another tough one on Saturday with Monroeville that we have to get to work and improve if we want to win,” Mahl added.
Meanwhile, Smith was happy that the team trusted her to take the pivotal 3-point shot, and said that the team believes in each other.
“My first thought when the three-pointer went in was, ‘it’s about time’,” Smith said. “After that went in, I just focused on my defensive matchup and saw the ball and just grabbed it and tried to get to the basket for the score. We all trust and play for one another.”
Smith led St. Paul with 10 points, while Morgan Baxter added nine and Megan Hammersmith scored eight.
For the Big Red (1-3, 0-1), Tristen Wiley and Mallory Miller each scored 10 points, with Emily Blanton adding eight.
"We are getting better and competing," Plymouth coach Dan Parrigan said. "What we are running into right now is a team with talent, but not enough confidence. We have lost three games and have been close in each one, but like today, when the other team punches us in crunch time, we don't counterpunch.
“Once we learn that, I think we will start seeing more wins come in,” he added. “We just went toe-to-toe with a top team in our conference and lost by three. Once the confidence comes, games like this will turn into wins."
ST. PAUL (4-0)
Morgan Baxter 4-1—9; Anna Lukasko 2-0—4; Megan Hammersmith 3-2—8; Danielle Smith 3-3—10; Kati Kamann 1-0—2; Lauren Chandler 1-2—4. TOTALS 14-8—37.
Morgan Chaffins 1-0—2; Mallory Miller 5-0—10; Kelsey Blankenship 1-0—2; Tristen Wiley 5-0—10; Emily Blanton 2-0—8; Shyan Gale 1-0—2. TOTALS 16-0—34.
St. Paul 10 7 2 18 — 37
Plymouth 8 4 18 4 — 34
3-point FGs: (SP) Smith (P) Blanton 2.
JV: St. Paul, 36-23