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HCC guts out Palmer's 500th

February 01, 2007|by BOB PARASILITI

The Hagerstown Community College women's basketball team usually feasts on emotion.

But Wednesday, the portions were smaller than usual so the Hawks had to work off their guts.

The scene was set for a buffet of emotions when HCC faced Harford Community College with coach Marlys Palmer's 500th career coaching win at stake. The Owls managed to control the Hawks' diet, forcing HCC to struggle to a 68-55 victory.

"They were pumped early, but when Harford showed they had developed a game plan and it worked, they go tense," said Palmer, who is now 500-308 in 27 1/2 seasons at HCC.

Harford's band of six players turned the game into a halfcourt battle, basically taking HCC out of its element. The Hawks were forced to play station-to-station basketball, not exactly a crowd favorite.

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"What gets a team up is running and getting the ball going," Palmer said. "We were cold from the outside."

HCC (19-3) took an early 14-5 lead and shepherded it to an uneasy 38-28 advantage at the half. The offense was gummed up and so was the top of the basket for the Hawks. HCC was forced to make heavy adjustments.

"We were playing at their intensity," said HCC sophomore Jamie Robinson. "Someone had to pick it up for the team. At halftime, Coach talked to us and said we had to get the ball inside. We didn't think it was going to be a tough game. It was a shocker that it was that close."

With the outside shooting going errant, HCC went inside and worked with Robinson off the high post. She snaked through Harford's stingy defense and fought in 20 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to keep the Hawks ahead of the Owls.

"We wouldn't have had to do that so much if our shots would have been falling," Palmer said. "We were looking to Jamie at the high post and trying to get her to work across the top and to the elbow. Their defense was opening up a seam."

While Harford (9-13) worked inside to Qourtnee Long for 14 points, Robinson led a battle on the boards to keep the Owls at arm's length.

"I thought it was slipping away when they got to within six," Palmer said. "I kept thinking that they only needed two 3s to tie it. We took off our press and slowed the offense down and tried to control the boards. I felt like if they would have tied it, we wouldn't have got it back."

HCC held a 61-55 lead with 5:50 remaining. The Hawks took control by outscoring the Owls 7-0 the rest of the way, bouyed by a 18-foot jumper by Alicia Myers with 3:51 to go and a three-point play by Sam Cain with 1:50 left.

"We didn't hit many from the outside, but the ones we got were timely," Palmer said. "Alicia Myers hit a big one. We were just searching for a combo to get the game."

Marisa Elliot added 16 points as the only other Hawks player in double figures.

"We felt like we had to win ... We didn't want to mess up," Robinson said. "We wanted to make it special for (Palmer)."

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