Oh, the letdown after a big win.
No. 2 Hammond knew the feeling in last night's 60-40 victory over No. 19 Glenelg.
The final score makes the game look like a rout. It was anything but.
With three minutes to go, host Glenelg only trailed by eight. But the Gladiators hit a cold snap, missing their last seven shots while the Golden Bears hit their last five and added a couple of free throws.
"We were happy to pull this one out at the end," said Hammond guard Kacy Williams, who finished with 11 points, five rebounds, seven steals and three assists. "Coach told us after a big game, you can be too laid-back, too lackadaisical. It happens every time. It's mental."
Coming off a thrilling 61-60 upset of No. 1 Western on Wednesday in the Fuel Fund Classic at the Baltimore Arena, the Bears (16-1 overall, 10-0 league) weren't quite as sharp as usual.
"It's not that you want to let down. You can't help it," said Hammond coach Joe Russo. "Just the atmosphere of that whole thing, the big crowd, the big arena and the excitement of the game. But on the other hand, you turn that around and this is a big, exciting game for Glenelg, because they're playing the No. 1 team and they took us to the wire."
Glenelg surely deserves all the credit Russo gave them. The Gladiators (14-5, 7-4) played terrific defense and had little trouble with Hammond's press.
They kept pace with the Bears until midway through the second quarter. Kim Brown fed Trish Kilroy (13 points, 11 rebounds) on the fast break to tie the game at 18.
After that, though, the Gladiators couldn't hit anything as Hammond rallied for 14 unanswered points to pull ahead 32-18 at the half. The Gladiators missed their final 14 shots of the half.
"In the first half, we gave up 17 offensive rebounds," said Glenelg coach Randy Wallenhorst. "That really hurt us -- that and only scoring two points in the second quarter."
But the Gladiators didn't fold, even though they fell behind 44-25 before starting their comeback attempt.
Jill Younce fed Brown for a 20-footer, then got a steal and sank her own three-pointer to finish off the third quarter.
Trailing 44-31 going into the final quarter, Glenelg opened with a layup from Kilroy on a feed from Carrie Brown.
Hammond pulled further away on single free throws from Kellye Townsend (nine points, nine rebounds) and Sonia Keiner (12 points, 10 rebounds, seven assists) and a short jumper from Tiki Nicholson (10 points).
Down 48-33 with 4:41 to play, Glenelg mounted its final rally. Younce fed Kilroy for an easy inbound lay-in. Then Christina Flowers fed Kim Brown for a three-pointer on another inbound play.
Flowers added two free throws to pull the Gladiators within 48-40 with 2:59 left.
The Bears, who had missed 11 of 12 shots in the quarter, didn't miss again to run up their 20-point lead. Each starter -- Keiner, Townsend, Williams, Nicholson and Tameka Harrison (15 points, eight steals) -- had a basket in the final rally.
For Glenelg, the loss couldn't put a damper on their strong performance.
"I'm so proud of the kids," said Wallenhorst. "As a coach, I'm
thrilled to say we were pretty close to a team that will probably be nationally ranked."