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WESTERN PENNSYLVANIA Slippery Rock gives Trojans a battle before losing, 54-50



Published: Fri, January 4, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The Rockets need to work on scoring more points.

By BILL ALBRIGHT

VINDICATOR CORRESPONDENT

SLIPPERY ROCK -- For much of Thursday's basketball game with Slippery Rock, it appeared as though Greenville High was going to be able to run away and hide with an easy win.

However, the Rockets battled back from a 17-point deficit midway through the third period, regaining the lead at 42-41 with 3 minutes, 24 seconds remaining, before the Trojans eventually prevailed 54-50 in a Mercer County Athletic Conference game.

"I have to give their kids a lot of credit," said Greenville coach Mike Murray. "They are dealing with a lot more than just a basketball game with the loss of their classmates. To come out and play the game and come back after getting down like they did says a lot about them."

Four students at Slippery Rock died in an auto accident on New Year's Day.

Halftime spread: The score was knotted at 11 after one period before the Trojans (6-5) steadily built their lead to 11 (34-23) at the intermission. Leading the Greenville attack was Laura Ryhal, who scored 10 of her game-high 19 points in the second period.

"When things break down for us, we look to Laura Ryhal," said Murray. "We sort of look to her when things aren't going well for us. And, if we can get the ball to her, she has the ability to create some good things for us.

"We got off to a good start this year, but we have had some tough games recently so I am proud of our kids for the way they hung in there and won a close game."

The Rockets' Dawn Meling scored nine of her 12 points in the second period to keep her team close.

"We had one bad stretch right at the end of the first half when I took her out of the game," said Slippery Rock (1-7) coach John Tabisz. "She being in foul trouble hurt a little bit because she had to sit some, but she kept us in the game.

"But the fact remains that it is going to be a long year for us if we don't start knocking some shots down. That is what it boils down to every time because I thought we did a decent job defensively."

Just as quickly as the Trojans went to their patient, inside game to build their lead, they turned away from that approach and that allowed the Rockets to make their run.

Words to play by: "That is one thing we are working on," said Murray. "We are not used to being in this position [winning close games and having a big lead] and we reminded the girls in the locker room that poise plus patience equals payoff. It is not going to change overnight, but we are working hard at it and eventually, it will come along."

Beth Mihalik, a sophomore point guard, scored five unanswered points, enabling Slippery Rock to regain the fourth-quarter lead. She finished with a team-high 17.

"Beth is going to be a heckuva player before it is all said and done," said Tabisz. "When she fills out and gets a little stronger she is going to be a force to be reckoned with. When she is on, she can shoot the ball."

After the Rockets regained the lead, Greenville responded by scoring eight unanswered points for a 49-42 lead.

"We had a couple of turnovers down the stretch that really hurt us," said Tabisz. "We haven't played since December 17th and with that in mind, I am actually very pleased with the way we played. We just have to work on protecting the ball and knocking down some shots."




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