A quick, aggressive team that thrives on points off turnovers can dominate if it faces a team without fresh legs.
The Maryville University Saints used their quickness on offense and defense to pull away from a tired Stephens Stars team, winning 105-50 on Saturday at Silverthorne Arena.
The Stars showed they were ready to play early in the game but could not sustain the momentum.
Stars guard Elisa Cash’s 3-pointer off of an inbounds pass cut the Saints’ lead to 17-11 seven minutes into the game. With 11:25 to play, Saints coach Chris Ellis put his starters back in with a 22-13 lead. In the next seven minutes, Maryville went on a 22-10 run to take a 44-23 lead. The Stars would come no closer because of a stifling Maryville defense.
The defense wasn’t the only problem for the Stars. A lack of rest, Stars coach Dane Pavlovich said, hurt his team. The Stars (1-5) were playing their second game in as many days. They lost to Rhodes College 69-33 on Friday night.
“I think we were worn down (against the Saints),” he said. “We played Rhodes last night, and to go back-to-back with not even 24 hours of rest with the few players that we have is really tough.”
The Saints used their speed all game.
Maryville’s trapping defense used triple teams to force the Stars into 40 turnovers. Stephens, on the other hand, had no answer for the Saints’ defense; it shut down the Stars’ offense as the game progressed. The turnovers the Maryville defense created led to numerous easy baskets for the Saints. Ellis said his plan is strong defense and pushing the ball down the court.
“We like to get up and down the floor fast,” he said. “We’re pretty athletic, and from the first day of practice, even over the summer, we resolved that we were going to be a pressing team.”
Ellis said several of his new players, such as freshmen Laura Oetjen and Hanah Stark, have helped to form his team’s identity of being aggressive.
“We’ve got a lot of new kids this year,” he said. “Pretty much the entire team is all freshmen and sophomores, so we’re looking forward to a good future.”
Oetjen led all scorers with 16 points. Stark scored 10.
Unhappy with his team’s defense in the first half, Ellis said he worked to adjust it at halftime.
“We challenged our kids at halftime to press without fouling,” he said. “The kids responded, and it’s important to establish some goals at halftime if things aren’t going the way you want them to go.”
Stephens was flat to start the second half, and it turned the ball over its first three possessions. The Saints’ quickness allowed them to move to the basket with ease, and they capitalized off the turnovers by scoring the first 14 points for a 64-30 lead.
Stars freshman Janee’ Jones led the team with 11 points. Emily Sharp and Eva Smody each scored 10.
“The girls played really hard,” Pavlovich said. “At times we need to get smarter about what we do, but we’re just not (putting it together) yet.”