"It was a contrast in halves," HCC coach Marlys Palmer said. "I don't think we could have played much better in the first half. Our shots were falling. But Frederick's defensive intensity was better than ours in the second half.
"We were lucky we had the lead we had (after the first half)."
HCC (20-5, 12-2) used its height advantage in the first half and went over the top of the Cougars to pull out to a 43-15 advantage by intermission. The Hawks pounded the ball inside as Shuashanna Faulkner played her best game with 12 of her 14 points in the first half.
After opening the game with the first 10 points, HCC relied on a 23-5 run in the final 10 minutes of the half for the 28-point bulge.
But this time, Frederick came out for the encore.
The Cougars (13-9) turned up the pressure in the second half and took HCC out of its flow. The Hawks committed 13 of their 18 turnovers in the second half.
"The big thing was our shots weren't falling in the second half," Palmer said. "It allowed them to pick up their defensive intensity. Then when the shots stopped falling, we got uptight."
Frederick's pressure turned loose point guard Deniese Campbell, who scored 22 of her 26 points in the second half - mainly off steals and drives down the middle of the floor.
"We got out of sorts and we didn't do a good job against (Campbell) in the second half," Palmer said. "We handled her in the first half, but she had her way in the second half."
Yet, HCC had enough of a lead to maintain the advantage against anything the Cougars could try. Frederick outscored HCC 22-9 in the final 6:25 but it wasn't enough to overcome a 27-point deficit.
Sam Cain led HCC with 18 points and three steals while Jamie Robinson had 14 points and 15 rebounds and Chrissy Minnick had 10 rebounds.
"We had some good things," Palmer said. "Faulkner was brilliant in the first half and she is still developing. (Latoya) Buckner has had two good games in a row. And Cain scored 18 points without scoring a 3. She had to do something different than just stand out there and shoot.
"But it all starts with defensive intensity. Frederick played very well in the second half - if was the first time we faced a press in a while. If there would have been three more minutes on the clock, we would have lost it."