Courtney Davidson's strong play down the stretch helped the Irish to their third SVC victory.
By BOB ROTH
YOUNGSTOWN -- The Ursuline High School girls basketball team jumped out to an early lead, then stretched it to double figures before withstanding a rally, to defeat Warren Harding 46-38 in a Steel Valley Conference game Thursday.
The Raiders pulled to within one point, 35-34, on two free throws by 5-foot-7 freshman Desirae Jenkins with 7:10 remaining in the game.
But, Ursuline (9-2, 3-1 SVC) regrouped, scoring eight of the next 10 points.
Down the stretch: Senior Mahogani Graves grabbed an offensive rebound and converted it. Then, sophomore Courtney Davidson, who had been held to five points in the middle two quarters, sandwiched a Warren Harding (4-7, 1-3) basket with two of her own, giving the Irish a 41-36 lead with just over three minutes remaining.
Davidson then made a free throw and delivered a nifty pass to Christina Cook for a basket, pushing Ursuline's lead to 44-36 with 1:13 to go.
Davidson finished with 15 points, well below her scoring average; she also had six rebounds and five assists. Cook finished with 10 points and five rebounds.
Graves had 13 of Ursuline's 30 rebounds; more than half of them came in the second half.
Early lead: Ursuline led 8-0 with just over five minutes elapsed in the game and 14-4 at the end of the first quarter.
Warren Harding, committing 16 turnovers in the first half, struggled to score and trailed 26-14 at the intermission and 31-16 early in the third quarter after a 3-point goal by the Irish's Cathie Walsh.
Coach P.J. Notar called a time-out, and from that point on the Raiders out-scored Ursuline 16-4 to trail by only three points, 35-32, at the outset of the fourth quarter.
Senior Leigh Carlson, with six points, and junior Sharina Freeman, who scored five, led Warren Harding on its comeback.
Coach's view: "No doubt about it, we were out-played in the second half," said Ursuline coach Sean Durkin. "Harding came in with a game plan and with patience executed it.
"But, winning a Steel Valley Conference game is always big, especially when you gut them out the way we did tonight."
The Raiders were led by Freeman with nine points and eight of her team's 31 rebounds. Carlson and Jenkins both scored eight points and Jenkins had seven rebounds.
"I am proud of what has to be our best defensive effort of the season," said Notar, in his seventh season at Warren Harding. "We were patient because that was what we had to be in order to win. But we blew that opportunity by missing good percentage shots throughout the game."