By Pete Chiodo
February 5, 2013 7:00 a.m. MEADVILLE —
The Meadville girls basketball team could handle one comeback. Two comebacks, however, was too much to ask for as the Lady Bulldogs fell to visiting Region 5 foe Slippery Rock 49-42 on Monday at the House of Thrills.
The loss drops Meadville to 5-14 on the season and 3-6 in Region 5.
Slippery Rock, meanwhile, is 12-5 overall and 6-3 in the region and is still well in the hunt for a playoff spot.
“They did what they had to in order to stop Meadville, which is a big thing for us because in order to get through to the district playoffs we need to win the rest of our games,” said Lady Rockets head coach Christin Miller. “Nothing is a cake walk at this point. And Meadville has come a long way since we played them earlier this season. They are much more disciplined. Their coach is bringing out their talent and utilizing it well. And they exposed our weaknesses. My girls didn’t come totally prepared.”
Neither team got out to a hot start. But Slippery Rock warmed up faster than the Bulldogs, pulling out to an 8-1 lead. Meadville had missed their first 12 attempts from the floor and turned the ball over seven times in the opening period. Tomera Schweter banked in a last-second put-back for Meadville’s first field goal of the night, making it 8-3 Rock.
The second quarter was a very different story, however. Meadville came alive. Shauntia Vactor-Pope bagged back-to-back treys to put her team in front 9-8. She then added a pair of free throws. Schweter scored on a layup, and Kiashiah Newsome got a steal at Slippery Rock’s point and returned it for a fast-break lay-in. Meadville now led 15-8.
“I don’t think we came out ready to play basketball. We were sluggish and lackadaisical” said Lady Bulldogs head coach Casey Heller. “But then when we decided we wanted to play basketball, we were hard to guard.”
The Rockets responded by out-scoring the Bulldogs 8-1 over the next four minutes, tying the game at 16-16. But Vactor-Pope knocked down her third 3-pointer of the quarter to put MASH back in charge at 19-16. The half ended with the Bulldogs leading 19-18.
Then came the second half. Vactor-Pope started it off with her fourth 3-pointer, increasing the ’Dogs’ lead to 22-18. However, what followed was a 14-point run by the Rockets, giving them a 32-22 lead.
“We ran the floor well,” said Miller. “We fast broke when we needed to. And we’ve been working on that. So there was that positive. But that’s about my only positive for this game.”
Six minutes after Vactor-Pope’s trey, Meadville finally revisited the scoreboard when Newsome converted a 3-point play. And the third period ended with Slippery Rock in front 32-25.
The Bulldogs attempted to mount another comeback in the fourth quarter. They whittled the Rock’s lead all the way down to three points (40-37) with a couple minutes to play. But there just wasn’t enough left in the tank to complete another big run.
“We have a tendency to fall too far behind,” said Heller. “And then we have to play twice as hard to dig ourselves out of the hole we’re in. And then in the last couple minutes of the game, when it really counts, we don’t have enough momentum.”
Vactor-Pope ended up leading Meadville with 22 points. Newsome and Schweter followed with eight points apiece.
For Slippery Rock, Marissa Siebka had a team-best 15 points followed by Lauren Dietz with nine and Riley McGonigle with eight.
“Very ugly game for us,” said Miller. “Twenty turnovers and 18 offensive boards for Meadville. That’s good on their part for hitting the glass as well as they did. They brought out all of our negatives.”