Mount De Chantal took control in the second half and posted a big win.
YOUNGSTOWN -- Ursuline High girls basketball coach Sean Durkin will be the first to admit that his team, with just one senior, is young and has a lot to learn.
And heading in to Tuesday's game against Mount De Chantal (W. Va.), he was sure that his team would learn a few things. He did not, however, expect the Irish to get schooled by the Lions.
With a 33-26 lead at halftime, De Chantal started handing out defensive lessons in the third quarter, forcing the Irish to turn the ball over 14 times and allowing just one point during the eight-minute span en route to a 68-43 victory.
"We were certainly in the game at halftime and they [Lions] just really picked up the pressure defensively," said Durkin. "They did some things we're not used to seeing. [The turnovers] set off their transition game and everything went wrong that could."
Guard leads charge
For the Lions (9-2), 5-foot-5 junior guard Britney Hodges led the third quarter blitz, jumping into the Irish passing lanes from her position at the top of their 2-3 zone and igniting the transition game. She led the Lions in scoring with 17 points, 10 of which came from fast break layups.
"We were only down seven at half and the game was in our reach. We just let it go," said Ursuline junior Tyra Grant. "These are the kind of teams you learn from and you want to get better and play well against. We have been practicing and playing enough to know that when someone is playing the passing lane, give them a ball fake and cut. Don't make a bad pass and turn it over.
"Britney Hodges played excellent, but we could have benefited from her overzealousness in the passing lanes. We just have to learn to be smarter with the ball."
Grant led all scorers with 23 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter.
De Chantal's Gabriela Marginean applied intense defensive pressure on Grant throughout, especially in the third quarter.
"Tyra is very important to us and she needs to get in to the flow of the game," said Durkin. "And we were turning the ball over before we could get it to her and that's not a recipe for us to win."
A new year
"We're a different team than we were last year," added Durkin. "We have some young kids and it's just going to take a little time and we have got to find our identity."
The Irish, who are the defending Division III state champions, fell to 6-2.
Mount De Chantal coach John Rowan, who has four players who have already committed to play basketball at Division I colleges, was hoping that the lessons his team learned in last year's 65-59 overtime victory over the Irish would pay off in the second half this time around.
"We're just very happy to play a team with the caliber of Ursuline and be able to play well like we did in the second half and come out victorious," said Rowan. "It builds a lot of confidence for us."