St. Frances guards Tammy Rogers and Shadae Swan knew the formula for holding off neighborhood rival Institute of Notre Dame last night - turn up the defense.
The No. 1 Panthers did just that and Rogers and Swan combined for three three-pointers down the stretch to run away with a 63-49 win as St. Frances remained unbeaten in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference.
With their second win over the Indians this season, the Panthers (21-2) improve to 17-0 in the conference while IND (17-6) remains in second place at 13-4. Each team has one conference game left before heading into next week's A Conference tournament.
For nearly three quarters last night, No. 7 IND hung around, thwarting every Panthers effort to break the game open and remaining within 39-31 with 2:31 left in the third quarter.
The host Panthers then went on an eight-point tear to carry them into the final quarter. After Chandrea Jones hit a short runner to open the quarter and pull the Indians within 47-35, the Panthers took off.
"We stepped our defense up," said Swan. "We forced them to commit turnovers and we finished off those turnovers."
Rodgers nailed a 20-footer with 6:25 to go to push the lead to 50-35. With 3:25 left, the sophomore hit another and Swan followed that one 40 seconds later to give the Panthers their biggest lead of the game, 61-40.
While Rodgers and Swan, who scored 12 each, were lighting up the outside, 6-foot-1 All-Metro center/forward Angel McCoughtry was dominating the inside. The junior finished the game with 21 points and 23 rebounds.
"It was hard trying to get rebounds and it was hard getting a basket down there," said McCoughtry, who scored nine points from the free-throw line.
McCoughtry got some help inside from 6-1 center Tanisha Foster, who scored eight points. Swan also had five rebounds.
It didn't help the Indians to have 6-1 forward Caroline Wesley in foul trouble much of the second and third quarters. The Panthers had a big edge on the boards in those two quarters and a 45-35 advantage for the game.
"We need her," said IND coach Herb Hoelter. "Inside, we need three big girls to match up with them. We just gave Angel too much leeway on the boards, and we got a little tired and committed some turnovers that they turned into threes."
Colby Lee led the Indians with 19 points, including five three-pointers, and Jones, an All-Metro guard, scored eight of her 13 points in the second half.
The Indians are counting on one more chance to knock their neighbors down a peg, but they could only meet again in the A Conference championship on Feb. 22 at Villa Julie College.
"We're looking to get them next time when it really matters," said IND guard Katie Hoelter. "We know we've got second place in the conference and they've got first, so we know the game that matters is next Saturday."