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Saints girls lose lead, but don't lose victory

January 22, 2006|By JACK HILL III

The St. James Saints girls basketball team let a 16-point lead over the St. Maria Goretti Gaels slip away on Saturday afternoon.

But St. James recovered, got it back and pulled out a 46-44 victory at the Gael Center.

"It was a good, hard-fought win," St. James coach Robin Curley said. "Goretti made some runs and we were able to hold them up. It was just great team basketball. It was the best that I have seen all year."

St. James (3-9) took its biggest lead at 31-15 with 5:29 remaining in the third quarter. Goretti (8-11) cut the lead to 34-29 by the end of the period.

The Gaels took the lead at 38-36 with 4:18 remaining on a basket by Erin Haney. It turned out to be the only lead Goretti would hold.

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The Saints went on top for good with an 8-0 run to take a 44-38 advantage with 1:37 left.

Goretti rallied to cut it to 46-44 with 20 seconds left. A tie-up gave the Gaels possession with 11 seconds left, but Erica DiMercurio missed a shot with four seconds remaining and time ran out as players scrambled for the ball.

"I think that defense was the key for us to pull it out in the fourth quarter," Curley said. "It was great team defense. Everybody was rotating and picking up people cutting through the lane."

Freshman center Fatimah Jefferson and sophomore forward Heather Lowery scored 16 points each to lead St. James. Jefferson added eight rebounds and four blocks, while Lowery added six rebounds. Hannah Palin had five assists.

"I think Fatimah and Heather play hard for as young as they are," Curley said. "They show good composure for their youth. They're learning to battle back instead of being pushed around."

Sarah Spierenburg, a 6-foot sophomore center, had 18 points, eight rebounds and four blocks for Goretti. DiMercurio had 10 points and four steals.

"We dug ourselves a hole," Goretti coach Todd Rideout said. "They came out with intensity in the first half. They were making layups and foul shots, while we were satisfied with shooting jump shots. St. James did a good job of pounding the ball to the inside. If they didn't get a layup, we fouled."

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