MONMOUTH – The Monmouth Mustangs aren’t known for their offense. In Tuesday night’s prelim against the 13th-seeded Traip Rangers, the No. 4 Mustangs struggled at times on the offensive end.

Unfortunately for the visitors, the Mustangs had no problem turning up the defensive heat. The stifling effort on defense added up to a 54-30 win for the Mustangs.

The Rangers (9-10) were held to just 27-percent shooting from the field as they connected on just 13 of 49 shots. Guard Amy Lemeiux led the team with 10 points. No one else scored more than five.

“Defense has been our staple right along,” said Monmouth coach Rick Amero. “We’ll go through droughts offensively, but we pride ourselves defensively. That’s what we can with consistency.”

The start of the game was delayed 20 minutes after the Traip bus ended up in Sidney. The bus ride and the tenacious Monmouth defense affected the Traip offense from the opening tip.

“I think early on we weren’t moving well without the ball,” said Traip coach Paul Marquis. “A lot of it was what they did defensively. They won a lot of games playing great defense.”

The Rangers trailed 25-14 after two quarters, hitting only six field goals during that time.

With the Mustangs (16-3) leading 12-11 midway through the second quarter, senior forward Sam Fairchild got the home team rolling. First, she connected on a backdoor basket. Moments later, Brittany Scirica and Fairchild drained back-to-back baseline 3-pointers to extend the Mustang lead to 23-11.

Monmouth wasted little time pulling away in the second half as Scirica nailed a 3-pointer from the wing and followed that up with a 15-footer for a 30-14 lead.

“We started to penetrate their zone quite a bit,” said Monmouth guard Jen Lola who finished with a game-high 15 points. “We started to pass the ball around, and our screens were really good. It just fell into place.”

The Mustangs led the entire way and never gave their opponents a break. The bench brigade accounted for 15 points, but more importantly, the group continued with the defensive pressure.

“They’ve played well all season,” said Amero. “They came out and kept up the defensive tempo.”

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