Lady Hilltoppers hold off McDowell
Despite a sluggish second half, the R-S Central Lady pulled out a close 62-57 win over McDowell Friday night in Rutherfordton.
“There were times where we just got in too big of hurry and it was kind of like deja vu,” Fuller said. “Last time we did the same thing and ended up losing to them by three. They just needed to clear there minds and they went out an executed.”
The Hilltoppers opened on an 8-2 run highlighted by steals from Tia Bristol and Alyssia Watkins that forced McDowell to burn a timeout halfway through the opening quarter.
The Lady Titans’ defense stepped it up in the remaining four minutes but couldn’t
In the second quarter the Lady Hilltoppers defense continued to stifle McDowell.
The Lady Titans called another timoeout halfway through the quarter after the transition offense of Central accounted for two easy buckets and Christian Godlock poured in her first four points of the contest in the post to put Central up 18-7.
A 7-0 McDowell cut the lead to just four before another transition basket, this time by Taylor Miller, stretched the lead back to six with just over a minute remaining in the half..
A Te’Ja Twitty free throw sent the Lady Hilltoppers into the half with a 21-16 lead.
Watkins came out dropping dimes in the second half, the most impressive was a low bounce pass to Twitty on the low block to put Central up 29-18 and forced McDowell to call a timeout.
The Lady Titans matched Central the rest of the way in the third to hold their deficit to just 11 going into the fourth, 39-28.
McDowell came out hot in the fourth with five quick points while Central committed two quick turnovers. The lead was cut to eight points, 41-33, and Fuller was forced to call a timeout.
“We thought they might be winded a little in the second half,” said head coach Darius Fuller after the game. “We thought pressing could help build the lead but the bottom fell out. We got complacent and they capitalized.”
The Lady Hiltoppers were still flustered out of the timeout as Watkins committed another turnover that turned into a technical foul that allowed McDowell to pull within six at 41-35 with just over six minutes remaining in the game.
Miller kept the Hilltoppers out front with three points and an assist that preserved the eight point lead.
“[Davis] was in her element,” Fuller said. “That stretch was great for her and for us. That was senior leadership.”
Bristol set the lead back to double-digits with a pull-up jumper, 51-41, but it was short-lived after McDowell converted two free throws on their ensuing trip down the court.
Then the game turned into a free throw contest as each school reached the double bonus.
With less than two minutes the lead was just 56-51 for Central, until McDowell drained a deep three to pull within two.
“Our 15-point lead went to five real quick,” Fuller said. “Trust me, I was sweating.”
On the next possession for Central, Aaliyah Davis missed two free throws but Twitty cleaned the glass and put it in the hoop with a foul. She missed the free throw but the Central lead was back to two possessions.
Two more free throws in two trips put Central up 60-54 with 30 seconds left.
Bristol corralled a loose ball on McDowell’s next possession but turned it over on her way up the court to return the ball to the Lady Titans.
McDowell took full advantage and nailed a three and brought the score to 60-57 with only 15 seconds left.
Watkins made one of two shots from the line to regain a two possession lead with 13 seconds remaining.
McDowell could find the bottom of the net on a frantic trip down the floor. Davis collected the rebound, was fouled and made one of two shots to bring the game to its 62-57 final.
“I was really proud of what my girls did at the end from the free throw line,” said Fuller.
Bristol finished the night with a double-double scoring 10 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. She also added five steals.
Twitty had 15 points and seven rebounds, Davis had 12 points and seven boards and Miller contributed 10 points.
Central returns to the court Dec. 7 when they welcome Crest to town. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.