NORTH CLARENDON — U-32 utilized pressure defense in the second period to blow open a close game and cruise past Mill River 51-25 in the girls non-league basketball opener for both teams Saturday.
The Minutemen trailed just 9-7 after one but committed 11 turnovers against the full-court press of the Raiders in the second stanza as U-32 outscored the hosts 21-7 to open a 30-14 advantage at intermission.
“I think the momentum switched at that point,” U-32 coach Travis Paquet said. “We came out with a four-guard, one-post offense and put on our full-court zone pressure. I think making them cough the ball up made them a little uneasy and we were able to take advantage.”
The Raiders extended the lead to 20 points after the third, 40-20, as the Minutemen were limited to a basket by Molly Bruso and four free throws.
“I think certainly our inexperience showed,” Mill River coach Ken Webb said. “Plus, we’ve got some injuries. Two players that probably would start for us are not playing. I think defensively we struggled a lot.”
When the Raiders were not scoring off turnovers, they did a good job of moving the ball in the halfcourt and got good looks both inside and out.
Senior Mikayla Farnum led the way with 13 points despite spending some time on the bench with foul trouble before picking up her fifth in the waning moments. Junior Emily Ehret added eight points while four others - Shea Croteau, Casey Flye, Rachel Lawson and Rebecca Nease - chipped in six apiece.
The Minutemen got six points from Katelyn Schutt and four each from Sadira Majorell and Bruso.
“I thought the first quarter we played really well,” Webb said. “All of a sudden they put the press on us and sped us up too much. We were playing at a pace we really didn’t want to play at. We threw the ball away, they were able to convert and certainly that was the change of the game right there.”
The Raiders will host Spaulding on Tuesday while Mill River will be home to Middlebury the same night.
Paquet was happy with his team’s overall performance.
“First game on the road, long ride, jitters: all those different things,” he said. “Coming to Mill River, it’s always a tough crowd to play in front of, but I’m very pleased with how the girls play on the offensive and defensive ends.”