Central uses free throws to rally past East, 61-52
R-S Central girls basketball coach Darius Fuller will be the first to admit that the Hilltoppers aren't necessarily the greatest free-throw shooting team.
But, he couldn't help but have a smile on his face as R-S Central connected on 24-of-43 from the line — including hitting 14 in the fourth quarter to get past the Cavalier, 61-52 at East Rutherford Tuesday night.
"That's a pretty sight for us because free-throws have been our nemesis," Fuller said.
Taylor Miller got the bulk of the free-throws in the fourth quarter, shooting 9-of-14 over the last eight minutes.
But, from the get-go, it appeared that the Hilltoppers (6-4, 1-0 SMAC) were going to need more than just free-throws to get past East Rutherford (7-2, 0-1 SMAC).
Cavalier post Rachel Camp opened the game with 18 of her game-high 24 points in the first two quarters of the game. That helped the Cavaliers hold a 28-24 halftime edge.
However, in the second half, Camp was held to just a pair of field goals and was ineffective in helping East Rutherford's inside game.
"She just tried to do too much in the second half," said East Rutherford head coach Larry Ross. "You've got to be able to trust your teammates."
R-S Central used a 9-3 run midway through the third quarter to keep pace with the Cavaliers and erase the halftime deficit.
With the game tied at 41 going into the fourth, the Hilltoppers went to their defense and contained East Rutherford to just three field goals for the entire period.
'We just had to keep our heads up and keep pushing," Fuller said.
Down the stretch, Miller was sent to the foul line six times in the fourth quarter.
"I was just glad that she was able to hit those free-throws down the stretch," Fuller said.
In the meantime, East Rutherford went cold from the field, hitting just two field goals over the last 3 minutes, 50 seconds of the game.
"We didn't make enough and they (R-S Central) killed us on second-chance opportunities," Fuller said. "The really outplayed us tonight."
While Camp led all scorers with 24, Tia Bristol put in 16 for the Hilltoppers to go along with 14 from Miller.
Justina Greene added 14 of her own for the Cavaliers.