Catonsville’s bread and butter in its game against Mount de Sales was its rebounding and defense, but it was sophomore Andrea McTaggert who provided the jam.
She connected on four three-pointers in the Comets’ 48-37 victory over the host Sailors Tuesday night.
McTaggert was the biggest outside threat and she hit one three-pointer in each quarter and led the Comets (9-1) with 12 points.
Taylor Barton (10 points, 12 rebound), Maja Wichhart (4 points, 9 rebounds), Renee Gast (8 points, 8 rebounds) and Jennifer Gast (4 points, 9 rebounds) controlled the inside as the Comets outrebounded the Sailors, 42-28.
Senior guard Sammi Gillis kept the Sailors (6-9) within range with a game-high 18 points, but the rest of the Sailor starters didn’t score their first field goal until late in the third quarter.
Eve Lukowski scored all nine of her points in the second half and Amanda Donovan scored four of her five after intermission.
“We just needed to knock a few shots down,” Sailors coach Trish Armstrong said.
Armstrong was happy with the defense, which was designed to slow Catonsville’s leading scorer Barton.
The Sailors forced 26 turnovers and Barton got into first-half foul trouble, but they had no answer for McTaggert, who exploited the 1-3-1 zone.
“Honestly, I think we did a good job on 13 (Barton),” Armstrong said. “That was our focus. Everything goes through her. The one that threw us off was No. 23 (McTaggert). I was a little surprised by that.”
Catonsville coach Mike Mohler was relieved to have his sophomore sharpshooter.
“She had to loosen it up for us a little bit,” Mohler said.
McTaggert’s three in the first quarter started the Comets’ scoring, but the Sailors stayed close on three driving baskets by Gillis and trailed only 8-6 after the first quarter.
“They were giving me the lane, so I just tried to take it in as much as I could,” Gillis said. “They weren’t collapsing.”
Midway through the second period, McTaggert’s trey stretched the lead to five, 14-9.
Trailing 19-11 with five seconds left, the Sailors went the length of the court and Gillis’ three-pointer at the buzzer made it 19-14 at halftime.
Wichhart had eight rebounds in the quarter and Jennifer Gast had six rebounds and five points in the period, but Mohler was most happy about the defense.
“Until the buzzer-beater in the first half we had only given up 11 points,” he said. “It wasn’t like we were playing terrible, terrible defense.”
That defense forced 23 Sailor turnovers and held them to just 12-for-49 shooting from the field (24 percent).
Take away Gillis’ marksmanship (6-for-7) and the Sailors shot just 14 percent.
They also converted just 2 of 11 free throws in the opening half. “We are normally a pretty good foul shooting team,” Armstrong said.
The Comets pulled away in the third quarter behind five rebounds and four points from Barton and another trey from McTaggart.
“That (rebounds) is all I could get tonight,” said Barton, who has more than 500 career rebounds.
The Sailors did end the night with a highlight as Gillis hit a halfcourt shot at the buzzer for the final score.
By then, she had already made an impression on Mohler.
“No. 3 (Gillis) was just crushing us in the first half,” he said. “I knew it was going to be a struggle. Mount de Sales is well-coached and the kids are fundamentally sound.”
It’s doesn’t get any easier for the Comets, who face unbeaten Milford Mill at home on Wednesday (5:30 p.m).
“That’s all we’ve been thinking about,” Barton said.
Andrea McTaggart 12, Taylor Barton 10, Renee Gast 8, Beya Wallace 6, Jennifer Gast 5, Maja Wichhart 4, Lauren McDonald 3.
Mount de Sales 37
Sammi Gillis 18, Eve Lukowski 9, Amanda Donovan 5, Abby Zaluki 3, Annie Tavera 2.