St. Mary's coach Carmine Blades said his team came out looking for awin Friday night.

Apparently not until after the first quarter.

The Saints shot 1-of-18 from the floor and committed seven turnovers in the opening period en route to a 59-52 loss to host Old Mill in a non-league girls basketball game.

Coming off a tough 44-39 overtime defeat to Seton Keough the previous night that denied them a shot at the regular-season Catholic League championship, the Saints could have been excused for a subpar showing Friday.

That's exactly what they delivered.

"Playing two pressure games back-to-back took a toll on the girls," said Blades, whose team shot a dismal 18-of-69 overall. "We had a little bit of an emotional letdown, but that's no excuse. We came back, though, and I was proud of that."

The Saints(17-8), who begin play in the Catholic League Tournament Friday, rallied to take a brief 32-31 lead on Randall Goldsborough's three-pointer with one minute left in the third quarter. But Old Mill's Sandy Johnson answered with a short jumper, and the Patriots scored the first12 points of the fourth quarter to secure the win.

Stacy Himes began the run with a driving basket, and freshman Michelle Salmon followed with a layup after Goldsborough missed badly on another three-point attempt.

The Saints then made the first of three straight turnovers. Old Mill took advantage with baskets from Johnson (eight points), Allison Wentworth and Himes.

Wentworth, who had seven points and 11 rebounds off the bench, put back a Johnson miss to complete the surge and leave the Patriots ahead, 45-32.

St. Mary's ran off nineof the next 11 points to cut into the lead, but could not overcome asecond scoring drought.

Perhaps no one was happier afterward thanHimes, whose two missed free throws with no time showing on the clock allowed St. Mary's to escape with a 43-41 win over Old Mill in the finals of the Noel Classic back on Dec. 29.

Himes was 6-of-8 from the line Friday in scoring a game-high 14 points.

"I was determined to make my foul shots tonight," she said. "I was 2-for-11 in the last game. We work on it every day in practice, and I'm trying to change my form."

The extra work apparently paid off for everyone; Old Mill went 22-of-35 from the line, as 10 different players scored.

Salmon, in only her second non-tournament varsity game, scored seven of her 11 points in the fourth quarter.

"I wanted to go out and play my best and contribute what I could with the best of my ability," she said. "I just kept my cool. I knew it was going to be a big game."

Old Mill coach Pat Chance said, "She gives us a lot of speed outthere at the guard position. She made some key steals and scores andthat made a big difference."

The win improved the Patriots' record to 18-2, and more importantly, gave them another five points in their quest for the top seeding in the Class 4A Region IV playoffs. Chance said a victory in either of their two remaining games, against Arundel Tuesday or Queen Anne's Friday, should give them the home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

Hopefully, it will be quieter there than it was Friday, when a fire alarm sounded early in the second quarter and forced a 15-minute delay.

Old Mill had taken a 16-4 lead, but only made one field goal in the second quarter and saw the advantage shrink to seven points, 24-17.

"The stopping hurt us," Chance said. "Everything was going our way, then we have the delay."

And then they stopped playing sound defense, allowing Goldsborough (12 points) and Bridget Smith (11) uncontested shots from the perimeter.

"The first part of the game, we were playing sound defense," Chance said. "You can't let them stand out there and shoot three-pointers."

The Saints had enough trouble launching anything in the early going, with Old Mill sophomores Anne Chicorelli and Debbie Dawson blocking three shots each in the first half. Chicorelli finished with four blocks, Dawson three and Johnson one.

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