Some losses are different than other losses.
For instance, there was the Meadville girls basketball team’s loss to Region 5 frontrunner Grove City last Thursday, in which the Lady Bulldogs hung right with the Eagles before falling short, 51-47.
Then there was Monday night, as Meadville took on now co-Region 5 front-runner Slippery Rock at the House of Thrills. This loss had a much different feel for the Lady Bulldogs as the visiting Rockets controlled the contest from front to back on their way to the victory, 61-34.
“Heck yeah, totally pleased,” said Slippery Rock head coach Amber Osborn. “Every game you play you know that there are going to be mistakes made. But that was just about the best we’ve ever played.”
The win moves Slippery Rock to 9-3 overall and 5-1 in Region 5, moving the Rockets into a tie for first in the conference with Grove City, which was idle last night.
Meadville, on the other hand, slips to 5-8 on the year and 3-3 in Region 5.
“Slippery Rock,” said MASH head coach Keith Grubbs, “came out and played hard, they ran their stuff, they knocked down their shots. They were hot tonight.”
The Rockets didn’t start hot. In fact, neither team did, missing a handful of field goal tries on either end.
Yet, it looked like Meadville would be the first to get out of the funk, as Natalia Fontanez-Waid drove the lane and drew the foul for a three-point play, and Tye Johnson followed that up by stealing away a Slippery Rock defensive rebound going up for the bucket to make it 5-1 Bulldogs.
But then Slippery Rock took over.
The Rockets, turning the Bulldogs over with some fast-moving defense and dominating on the boards, scored 14 straight points to go up 15-5.
Meadville didn’t score its next basket until Fontanez-Waid hit a jumper with 40 seconds left in the period.
Slippery Rock answered with 10 more consecutive markers to take a 25-7 lead halfway through the second period.
Meadville would manage just four points for the stanza, and go into the break trailing 34-11.
Slippery Rock had forced Meadville into 13 turnovers for the half, and had out-rebounded the Bulldogs 22-15.
The Lady Bulldogs got it together somewhat for the third period. They protected the ball better, and fought for the rebounds, eventually grabbing 11 caroms to Slippery Rock’s four.
That led to more scoring chances for Meadville. Fontanez-Waid and Jaida Speed both had four points in the period on their way to leading Meadville for the game with nine apiece. And four other Bulldogs scored during the third, allowing the home squad to outscore the Rockets 14-9, trimming the lead down to 43-25.
However, Slippery Rock was right back to form in the fourth, opening it with a 10-point run and eventually outscoring the Bulldogs 18-9 for the period.
The Rockets only ran five players for much of the game, subbing in one player for just a few seconds in the third when one starter came down on her head while getting a rebound.
“We’re down two big players,” said Osborn. “Our leading scorer from last year, Maryann Ackermann, she’s out for the season. And Hallie Raabe has been out for the last month with an ankle. And she’s a big loss too. She’s a commit to SRU.
“So, not having them has been a big deficit. We’ve had to learn to piece the puzzle back together.”
It seems like they’re learning pretty well. Four of the Rocket’s starters scored in double digits. Two had double-doubles. Ella McDermott had 15 points and 15 rebounds. Bronwyn McCoy had 12 points and 13 rebounds. Anna Kadlubek added 13 points. And Gianna Bedel had 14 points, knocking down four 3-pointers.