The last time St. Frances trailed a conference opponent by 16 points, the Panthers never recovered. Last night against No. 11 McDonogh, however, the top-ranked Panthers pulled together and pulled out a 54-44 victory.
The host Panthers used their press, picked up their rebounding and began attacking the Eagles' zone late in the second quarter. They carried that over into the second half, taking their first lead of the game on Angel McCoughtry's three-pointer with 24 seconds left in the third quarter.
Through much of the first half, however, the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference game looked like a repeat of the Panthers' 56-39 loss to Roland Park on Dec. 17. As the Reds had done, McDonogh controlled the tempo, forcing the Panthers into a half-court game in which they fired off quick jump shots instead of working for open shots inside.
"We were rushing our shots and we weren't getting rebounds," said Panthers guard Shadae Swan, whose team was out-rebounded 15-4 in the first quarter.
The Eagles' zone clamped down on McCoughtry, an agile 6-foot-1 forward and last season's All-Metro Player of the Year, holding her to just six points and three rebounds in the first half. McCoughtry, who was honored last night for scoring her 1,000th career point, boosted her game in the second half, attacking the basket to finish with 21 points, seven rebounds and three blocks.
"Our intention was to get Angel out of her game in the first half and that's what we did," said Eagles guard Dominique Damico. "That's why we got the lead, but once she got into her rhythm, it was hard to stop her."
Before McCoughtry got rolling, the Panthers' press began turning the tide late in the first half. Maya Newman, Swan and Mi-Khida Hankins grabbed three quick steals in a 6-0 run that cut the Eagles' lead to 24-14 with 2:26 left in the half.
McCoughtry scored eight points and Camille Coleman took a pair of charges during a 10-3 run that cut the Eagles' lead to 31-26 late in the third quarter. Coleman then kicked a pass out to Swan for a three-pointer and McCoughtry finished off the quarter with a 20-footer to take the lead for good.
As the Panthers rallied, the Eagles got away from their game, turning the ball over nine times in the third quarter and managing just three points.
The Panthers (10-2, 5-1) opened up the lead with a 10-point run midway through the fourth quarter.
The Eagles (11-4, 7-2) got 14 points from Anastasia Wynn and 12 from Rachel Braver, who scored all of her points in the first half.