AUBURN — Senior guard Jessica Zimmerman served as playmaker and leading scorer with 19 points to steer St. Dom’s to a 41-32 victory over Richmond in girls basketball action on Thursday night.

But after an up-and-down first half, where both teams struggled to score, the Saints (2-1) faced a greater challenge — the Bobcats’ (0-2) press in the third quarter.

“The girls were definitely nervous, but we overcame (the press),” St. Dom’s coach Lexy Grondin said. “But we had to get someone to the middle. I told the girls they needed to be more aggressive. We also had a girl in foul trouble, which made it harder. It was something we had to overcome.”

The Bobcats came alive after implementing an effective press that slowed down the Saints and allowed Richmond to outscore St. Dom’s 13-11 in the third quarter.

Richmond moved to within a point of the Saints thanks to Sophie Wells, who scored eight of her team-leading 15 points in the period, and she got help from a 3-pointer from Lila Viselli.

“(The Bobcats) were a really good team for sure,” Grondin said. “They have a lot of hustle and we needed to box them out. They have a lot of height, but we were still able to get rebounds.”

The Saints bounced right back toward the end of the third quarter thanks to Zimmerman’s three-point play. She then sent a long pass to Ava Apodaca for the breakaway and the Saints headed in the fourth quarter with a 28-22 lead.

“(Richmond) definitely put a lot of pressure on us in the second half and they were scoring a lot,” Zimmerman said. “But my team did a great job moving the ball and passing it around, especially… I am really proud how my team beat that press in the second half.

“We have been struggling with (presses) against previous teams, so I was really impressed with us being able to pass the ball and quickly get that ball up the floor and get a nice, easy layup for the team.”

The Saints really began to shine in the final stanza after they figured out how to work around Richmond’s press. Zimmerman scored six of her 19 points and helped build a 35-22 lead late in the fourth quarter.

“The girls played really well,” Grondin said. “I think it all came down to their work ethic and I think they outworked the other team and they were beating them down the court.”

Zimmerman started the first quarter with five quick points, which included a 3-pointer and a basket from underneath the hoop.

A pair of 3-pointers from Charli Apodaca helped the Saints’ cause in the first quarter, too. The Bobcats struggled to score, but received four points from sophomore forward Izzy Steward. Still, the Saints hung on to their 13-7 lead going in the second quarter.

“I like our effort in the second half. It was much better,” Richmond coach Mike Ladner said. “(The Saints) are decent. They have definitely improved.”

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