AUBURN – It was a solution the St. Dom’s girls’ basketball team thought would work against the zone.

The only hitch for the Saints Friday night was that through the first quarter, it wasn’t working.

“The zone gave us problems early,” said St. Dom’s coach Chet Lenfestey. “We obviously didn’t shoot well. We were moving the ball and getting the shots we wanted. They just weren’t going in.”

As the Saints shot 1-for-13 in the first quarter, NYA managed to open up a seven-point lead. When St. Dom’s began getting shots to fall in the second quarter, however, the Panthers’ zone didn’t seem all that invincible.

The Saints rallied with 10 straight points in the quarter and never looked back in beating NYA 48-32. It was the second victory over the Panthers this season for the Saints (4-1). St. Dom’s beat NYA in its season-opener 45-39.

“It’s the same thing with every zone,” said St. Dom’s sophomore guard Mary Lewis. “Once you see it, it takes a little time to get used to it. Once you get used to it, you find the little holes and the breakdown points and you’re able to attack it.”

The Saints tried to shoot its way out of the zone defense, moving the ball to set up a shot. It wasn’t until the second quarter that St. Dom’s had success.

Lewis helped ignite the rally with a 3-pointer, cutting the lead to 10-6. After an NYA free throw, St. Dom’s ran off 10 straight to take a 16-11 lead at the half.

“Once we start making the 3-pointers, it was like ‘Okay, we’re back in the game. Let’s get going.'” said Lewis. “Everyone got right up and were so into the game.”

Lewis led the Saints with 13 points while Abby Gilbert added 12. Abby Polkingham led NYA (1-5) with 10.

While the offense began making headway against the zone, it was the Saints defense that enabled St. Dom’s rally.

The Saints forced eight turnovers in the second quarter and held NYA to 0-for-8 from the floor.

“The thing that did it for us was the man-to-man pressure defense,” said Lenfestey. “That’s what we stress. We stress defense and when we’re not playing well, we have to play a little tougher. I challenged them during a timeout and they responded.”

NYA fell behind by as many as seven in the third quarter but chipped away and were down 22-20 after five straight points. The Saints finished the quarter with six straight on baskets by Lewis, Chelsea Fournier and Kelsey Murphy.

“Our defense stepped up so much,” said Lewis. “Once our defense was stable and we were strong, our offense was able to kick in and make the shots that we needed to.”

The Saints attacked the defense and padded the lead early in the fourth on three-point plays by Gilbert and Lewis as well as hoops by Murphy and Sara Theriault.


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