SOMERSET — With the swish of the net off a Ciara Saylor 3-pointer with 4:38 left in the third quarter Monday, the Lincoln girls led Somerset 41-18 – a lead that looked to be enough to sustain them for the rest of the night.
However, the game was far from over. Within a matter of 6 minutes, 46 seconds, the homestanding Lady Briar Jumpers went on a 19-2 scoring tear to cut the Lady Patriot edge to just six points.
But then it all stopped. Lincoln closed on a 17-5 run to thwart Somerset’s comeback effort and win 60-42.
“A little bit too close for comfort there at the end, but we
pulled it back out,” Lincoln coach Cassandra McWhorter said
with a sigh of relief. “We were going good, but we had a stretch of turnovers there and, I mean, Somerset capitalized on those turnovers and took it right to the basket and scored. We let them creep back in it, but we held off the little run there and was able to hold out.”
Lincoln (19-4) committed six of its total 10 turnovers during the Somerset rally. The Lady Patriots, who shot 45 percent (22-for-49) overall from the field, had trouble connecting in the run, getting just one shot out of 12 attempts to fall.
Somerset (8-13), which shot 38 percent (16-for-42) from the field for the game, hit a hot streak in its rally effort, going 8-for-12.
Virginia Scott, who led Somerset with 13 points, drove inside to ignite the Lady Briar Jumpers’ 19-2 comeback and finished with six points in the run. Miranda Mills scored all six of her points in the run, including back-to-back buckets off turnovers to make it a 43-37 ballgame with 5:56 left in the fourth quarter.
Lincoln quickly regained control of the game, though, scoring 17 of the game’s final 22 points. Saylor sparked the closing run with her second trey of the night with 5:22 to go. Sydney Harris, who had a game-high 18 points, helped to extend the Lady Pat lead with two buckets in the paint, Emily Fox, who finished with 16 points, drove inside for a layup, Rachel Spangler also hit inside, Saylor heaved up a shot in a crowd and Kelsi Honaker and Chansler Gilbert each sank two free throws for the 60-42 final.
After seeing Lincoln nearly lose a 23-point cushion, McWhorter said the Lady Patriots need to learn how to handle leads.
“I’d just like to see us grow up and mature in that area,” she said. “We’ve built some leads throughout the year and we’ve seemed to let teams bounce back in. I don’t know if it’s a lack of focus or just not taking care of the ball or lack of focus of our intensity, but we’re just not handling that with teams.”
“I’m looking for that last jab to go ahead and us do that, not let another team start creeping back in it but us go ahead and extend it by 8 or 10 more.”
Lincoln had to do its own creeping early Monday, with Madison Brooks, who finished with 11 points, scoring back-to-back layups to open the game and put Somerset on top 4-0. The Lady Briar Jumpers led until the 4:47 mark of the first quarter when Fox sank two free throws then followed with a 3-point shot to put the Lady Patriots ahead for good, 7-6.
Lincoln closed the first on a 10-3 run to go up 14-9. Kourtney Belcher scored on a jumper, Fox drove the baseline for two and Harris hit from 3-point land. Somerset’s Bethany Edwards interrupted Lincoln’s 10-0 run just before the buzzer by draining a trey.
The Lady Patriots resumed their scoring surge in the second quarter, opening on an 8-1 run. Tiandra Hocker and Harris had four points apiece as Lincoln opened up a 22-10 lead.
The Lady Patriots went on to outscore the Lady Briar Jumpers 16-7 in the second quarter. After a Fox free throw toss, Belcher hit for two points, Harris nailed a 3-pointer and Fox got a steal and a bucket at the buzzer for a 30-16 margin at the half.
An 11-2 run to start the second half gave Lincoln its biggest lead of the game. Fox opened the third-quarter scoring, Harris followed with two buckets, Belcher had a field goal and Saylor bombed in her trey to put the margin at 23 points, 41-18.
“We did what we needed to early. We executed some things well and got a good lead. But I told them after the game tonight that we still have some areas to improve on,” McWhorter said. “If we think that we’re there and we’re satisfied, come tournament time we’re going to have a rough road because there is always room to improve. And we definitely need to improve in a lot of areas before we get to tournament time.”
Lincoln was 5-for-12 from 3-point range and 11-for-16 from the foul line. Somerset was 3-for-8 from 3 and 7-for-11 from the line.
The Lady Briar Jumpers committed 22 turnovers.
Lincoln edged Somerset on the boards 27-26, led by Spangler with eight rebounds. Harris grabbed six boards and Belcher had five. Scott topped Somerset with nine rebounds.