When it came to defensive effort Jan. 8, the Bay girls basketball team brought the intensity on the road against Great Lakes Conference foe Holy Name and used its dominance on that end to run away with a 52-29 victory.
With the help of a full-court trap that flummoxed the Green Wave at times, the Rockets (9-3, 6-1 GLC) swiped 18 steals and forced 30 turnovers while building a lead that peaked at 30 points late in the third quarter. It was their fourth straight conference win.
“I think we really worked together as a team today,” said junior guard Audrey Hyland, who finished with 12 points and three steals. “We communicated, and I think my teammates really played together. When our shots weren’t falling, I think our defense really picked us up.”
Fellow junior guard Kayla Koz (12 points) and senior forward Haley Andrejcak (10 points) joined Hyland in double-figures and combined for seven more steals. Andrejcak led the Rockets with six rebounds, and junior forward Julia Costas finished with six points, five rebounds, three blocks and two steals off the bench.
Bay’s pressure started as soon as the ball was tipped, giving Holy Name (4-7, 3-4 GLC) fits in the backcourt. In the first quarter alone, the Rockets grabbed eight steals and forced an eight-second backcourt violation. Up 15-6 after one, they used a 9-1 run in the final 4:20 of the second frame to lead 27-11 at halftime.
In the first half, the Green Wave had more turnovers (17) than points (11).
“I think we were really active and put in 100% (to force so many turnovers),” Koz said. “We all stick together as a team. I’d say our team’s the closest we’ve ever been, and we get coached really well on defense at practice.”
The Rockets effectively put the game away with a dominant third quarter, opening on a 14-0 run and pushing their lead to 41-11 with 3:01 left. Back-to-back threes by Green Wave leaders Becky Styers (10 points, six rebounds) and Lauren Boling (seven points, four rebounds) ended a nearly eight-minute scoring drought that started just before halftime, and Bay’s lead was 45-17 heading into the fourth.
“We felt like we could pressure Holy Name a little bit,” Rockets coach John Curran said. “I didn’t think our pressure was great at times, but we were in the right spots enough of the time to have them throw it to us a few times.”
Holy Name came alive in the fourth as Bay used the entirety of its bench depth, and used a 12-3 run cut the deficit to 19 points, 48-29, in the final minutes. The Green Wave could take away some positives defensively, as they forced 18 Rocket turnovers — including nine steals — and created indecisiveness in the Rocket offense that led to errant passes and some sloppy play throughout the night.
To Curran, the inconsistency offensively was a source of frustration, though his defense was sharp.
“Our effort was good, but our execution wasn’t great,” he said. “It was enough to win tonight. … Holy Name did a good job of mixing up their defenses. We tended to get stuck sometimes. We had some bad combinations. They were in zone (at one point) and our zone shooters were out. There was some mixing and matching and they did a good job of making it harder on us.”
Bay travels to Parma tonight for a 7:30 p.m. tip.
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