The Lady Devils came out of the break pushing the tempo and ramped up the intensity defensively on Friday, helping them expand on their lead in the second half to win a defensive showcase against Daviess County 55-44.
It was a back and forth affair early, as the Lady Panthers started the game out on a 7-0 run. But Owensboro quickly bounced back with an 8-0 run of their own helping them ultimately build a 12-9 lead following the first.
The second quarter got off to a much slower start, with freshman Briley Henry’s game-tying three halfway through the quarter being the first bucket. Junior A’Lyrica Hughes quickly responded for the Lady Devils though, making it a 14-12 game with 3:55 to go in the first half.
That was the start of a 6-0 run for Owensboro, as they battled defensively to hold onto a 20-16 halftime lead. The Lady Devils were struggling offensively in the first half, but Head Coach Jansen Locher’s message at halftime to try and put the game away was plain and simple.
“We left a lot of free throws [at the line] in the first half,” Locher said. “[I told them] just concentrate. Make the bunnies, hit the offensive glass and just have more energy than they do.”
The Lady Devils listened and came out of the locker room red hot too, as a layup from freshman Unique Carter-Swanagan and subsequent threes from senior K’Asia Palmer and Lindsey Gibson made it a 28-16 game with 6:23 left in the third.
Now getting out in transition and creating havoc defensively with fullcourt pressure, another three from Owensboro made it an 11-0 run before Ayer’s left-handed layup gave the Lady Panthers their first bucket of the quarter. This run played a huge role in the game’s outcome, as Daviess County couldn’t close the gap more and went into the fourth down 41-28.
“The girls played with a lot of energy,” Locher said. “They fed off the crowd. Crowd got behind us there during that little run and the girls love it man. They love that recognition and they love playing in front of a lot of people. That’s when we’ve played some of our best games.”
The Lady Panthers went on to narrowly outscore the Lady Devils in the fourth, but it was too little too late as they went on to fall at home 55-44. Against a much improved Daviess County team since their matchup in December, Locher was pleased with his team’s fight as well as their ability to limit Ayer to 13 points.
“District games are always so tough,” Locher said. “Records and all that are thrown out of the way. Ayer’s so tough. She’s hard to gameplan for, but I think our girls did a good job—whoever we put on her.”
Ayer was one of two players in double figures for the Lady Panthers, as Briley Henry chipped in 10, while senior Madison Spurrier had eight and sophomore Zoey Beehn had seven. Hughes led Owensboro with 14 points on the night, while Carter-Swanagan (13) and Palmer (10) also finished in double figures.
The Lady Devils have won five of their last six, now sitting at 15-6 overall and 3-1 in district play. Owensboro has a busy and difficult stretch to end the regular season, but Locher and company feel that if they can get healthy and shore up the offense in the halfcourt they can make some noise in the district tournament.
“We’re still not fully healthy,” Locher said. “We did get Unique back, but we’ve still got a couple of other girls hurt. So we’re just putting pieces together right now and hopefully it all comes together come tournament time.”
The Lady Panthers on the other hand fall to 10-13 and 1-3 in district play, hoping to turn things around against McLean County at home at 7:30 p.m.