MONMOUTH — The Monmouth Mustangs made less than one of every five shots they took in Saturday’s MVC season-opener against Oak Hill, yet still won going away, 43-22.
The defending Class C champions more than made up for their inaccuracy with sheer volume, attacking the offensive boards and forcing 30 Oak Hill turnovers to take 81 shots compared to the Raiders’ 32.
Monmouth’s Tia Day led all scorers with 14 points along with five steals. Sadie Waterman led Oak Hill with 11 points.
The Mustangs made just 15 of their 81 shot attempts (19 percent). But relentless work on the offensive boards, particularly by Abbey Allen (12 points, 10 rebounds), Destiny Clough (10 rebounds) and Kaeti Butterfield (seven points, 13 rebounds off the bench) gave them more than their fair share of second chances.
Playing without senior starter Hannah Anderson (sprained ankle), Monmouth finished with 27 offensive rebounds, led by Butterfield’s 10.
“When your outside shooters aren’t hitting those outside shots, you definitely have to work a little harder inside and get those offensive rebounds and get second shots,” Butterfield said. “I think all of us get a little frustrated when we aren’t shooting very well because it’s one of the things we do best.”
“You can’t give the defending gold ball-winning team extra chances,” Oak Hill coach Mike Labonte said. “They’re a tough defensive team as well. So when you add those things together, it’s tough.”
Monmouth led 16-11 at halftime despite shooting just 5-for-42, thanks in large part to their defensive pressure forcing 21 turnovers. Oak Hill didn’t take a shot for more than three minutes to start the second quarter.
“We wanted to keep our girls in front of us and not get beat off the dribble because they had a couple of girls that were quicker than us,” Butterfield said. “Our main thing was to keep them in front, box out and not let them get easy shots.”
“They were all good shots,” Monmouth coach Scott Wing said of his team’s shooting struggles. “I think the biggest reason for it was the kids came out so pumped up. We got some balls inside, but they’ve got a couple of big bodies in there and made us work. I was waiting for us to go off. We did have one little run in the third quarter but kind of cooled off there, too.”
Day seemed to snap the Mustangs out of their slump at the start of the second half with a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched around an inside hoop by Allen to make it 24-11. They went cold after that, making just one more field goal in the period. But the Raiders missed all seven of their shot attempts and found themselves trailing 29-14, heading into the fourth quarter.
“We played good in every aspect of the game,” Wing said. “I thought we handled the ball fine. We passed the ball fine. We played good defense. We rebounded well, offensively and defensively. The name of the game is putting the ball in the basket or preventing the other team from putting the ball in the basket and we didn’t put it in the way we normally do.”
Baskets by Abby Nadeau and Waterman to start the fourth snapped a stretch of more than nine minutes without a field goal and pulled the Raiders back within 11. But that was as close as they would get.A hoop by Ferland and a putback by Clough increased the lead back to 15.