After a difficult loss Friday night to No. 2 Roland Park, the Archbishop Spalding girls basketball team was looking for a quick pick-me-up against county rival St. Mary's yesterday afternoon.
Instead, the No. 15 Cavaliers saw too much of standout junior guard Bri Gauthier and a collective defensive effort from the No. 16 Saints that coach Harry Dobson called the best of the season.
Clearly the quickest player on the court, Gauthier finished with a game-high 16 points to lead the Saints to a surprisingly comfortable 43-29 win over the visiting Cavaliers in Annapolis.
"Some of my best friends are on that team and we haven't beaten them my freshman or sophomore year, and it's kind of like the cross-town rival in Anne Arundel County, so we were all pumped for this game," said Gauthier. "I just felt like I needed to take it to the basket and it worked out well."
The Saints won their fourth straight game to improve to 12-5 on the season and 7-2 in the Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference. Spalding's record fell to 7-7 overall and 1-6 in conference play.
Gauthier made an impact early, scoring nine first-quarter points - including five free throws - to get the Saints out to an 18-9 lead.
The Cavaliers scored seven straight points to begin the second quarter, with a follow from standout junior guard Katie Latonick capping the spurt and cutting the margin to 18-16 with 4:42 left in the half. But the Saints took over from there, going on an 18-2 run to take a 36-18 lead into the final quarter.
Gauthier highlighted the run when, playing for the last shot in the third quarter, she broke down her defender and then pulled up for a soft 10-foot jumper to give the home team its biggest lead.
"Bri is Bri," said Dobson. "They're trying to double her and do other things to stop her, so we told the girls we need to get the ball to other people because they should be open. But she did a good job of getting to the basket and got to the foul line. She's just our leader."
Offense has been a weak point for the Cavaliers this season, and yesterday was no exception. They shot 12-for-50 from the field and missed all 10 chances at the free-throw line. The Cavs also turned the ball over 26 times against the Saints' persistent man-to-man defense.
Nicole Brown, Angie Guaranga and RaShauna Hobbs each scored six points, while Latonick was held to five points.
"This is a trend for us right now - we're struggling to put points on the board, particularly in the second half, and I think it's a question of people stepping up," said Spalding coach Deb Taylor, whose Cavaliers trailed Roland Park 22-17 at the half before falling, 51-25, on Friday.