AUGUSTA — Monmouth scrapped its way past Waynflete, surviving the Class C South quarterfinal, 45-40, at Augusta Civic Center on Monday.
“It was an absolute grind,” Mustangs coach Scott Wing said. “But I give kudos to Waynflete, they’re a solid team, they play a tough schedule throughout the year.
“And they’re the type of team that gives us a hard time — a few big girls and a point guard (Isabel Burdick) that we couldn’t get her to turn the ball over.”
Third-seed Monmouth advances to face No. 2 Boothbay in the semifinals Thursday.
After chasing the Flyers for most of the first half Monday, the Mustangs led at the break, 30-29. Annika Brooks put Waynflete up with a bucket, but Monmouth took the lead for good when Tia Day hit two free throws a little less than three minutes into the third quarter.
The lead reached seven points, 42-35, when Day drove for a left-handed layup early in the fourth. That ended up being the Mustangs’ last field goal of the game, as they were held to three one-make trips to the free-throw line the rest of the game, all three of those points coming in the final 30 seconds.
“I think it’s probably better for the team, actually, because we know that our next one isn’t going to be a blowout. It’s probably going to be a grind, and I think sometimes this type of game does prepare you a little bit better for that,” Wing said. “It doesn’t prepare my heart so well for that, but …”
Abbey Allen led Monmouth with 16 points, most coming off offensive rebounds. She had a team-high nine boards, five of which were offensive.
“That’s what I was getting, so I knew I had to finish them,” Allen said.
“She’s just a great, great, great all-around player,” Wing said. “When she comes out of the game, we’re a much different team.”
Allen’s production was crucial because of how well the Flyers defended Day, with 5-foot-10 Lydia Giguere shadowed the 5-6 Day down the court.
“On film, we were a little nervous, because she didn’t seem to have really a conscience on where she shot from,” Waynflete coach Mike Jefferds said. “So we knew that we had to extend out a little bit. She’s an outstanding player.”
Day didn’t hit make any 3-pointers — she didn’t shoot many — but still scored 10 points. She also had four assists and two steals.
“I know, for me, they were really taking away the 3-point line, then once we saw that, we tried to take it to the hoop and draw some more fouls on them,” Day said.
“They weren’t giving me anything, even like 3 feet off the 3-point line, so I started taking it the basket more, looking to dump it off to people like Abbey.”
Annika Brooks topped all scorers with 25 points, and carried the load for the Flyers while the Mustangs were holding Giguere to four points.
“They’re a very good defensive team,” Jefferds said. “They took Lydia Giguere out of the game, (she’s) been our top scorer all year, so it forced us to go to another option, Annika Brooks, and she had a huge game, she responded.”
Giguere also was called for an intentional foul with 27 seconds to play and the score 42-40 when she pushed Allen down. Allen hit the floor hard, but it wasn’t a clear-cut intentional foul. Either way, it was a rough blow to the Flyers’ chances of coming back.
“I think she was running after her, and she kind of stopped, and, the way I saw it, she pitched forward,” Jefferds said. “We certainly coach them to go after the ball, and anyone that plays against us knows that we’re not a dirty team like that.
“It was a little bit unfortunate. I feel bad for Lydia that was called on her like that, because, like I said, I thought she was looking like she was trying to catch herself. But, I could be wrong.”
After a fluid first half in which the teams combined for 59 points, Monmouth scored just 15 points in the second half and Waynflete had only 11.
“We were trying to be patient with the ball,” Wing said, “because they weren’t allowing us to shoot outside much, and we were trying to get the ball inside more, which takes more time, also.”
The Mustangs average 60-70 shots per game, but only got off 43, making 14 (32 percent). They also made only 15 of 28 free throws.
Thursday will be the third meeting of the season between Monmouth (17-3) and Boothbay (18-1). The Mountain Valley Conference foes split their two regular season matchups.