Every time No. 1 St. Frances ran up a considerable lead last night, No. 4 McDonogh cut back into it - just never far enough.
The host Panthers broke open a four-point game with an 11-point run to end the third quarter and went on to a 76-65 victory in an Interscholastic Athletic Association of Maryland A Conference game.
St. Frances, a four-time defending A Conference champion, used its swarming defense to hold the Eagles without a shot for the final two minutes of the third quarter as it ran its lead to 58-43, its biggest advantage of the night.
"This team knows how to put runs together," said St. Frances coach Jerome Shelton. "The runs that we made in this game, we made when we decided we were going to make that concentrated collective defensive effort."
McDonogh's All-Metro guard Brittany Mallory opened the fourth quarter with a three-pointer and the Eagles pulled within eight twice on Becky Cox three-pointers with five minutes left and with 2:40 left. But they would get no closer.
The Panthers (5-2, 3-0 conference) got a huge finish from All-Metro forward Mi-Khida Hankins, who scored 14 of the Panthers' 18 fourth-quarter points and finished with 25.
"I think we slept a little bit defensively [in the third quarter]," said Hankins, "and McDonogh's the type of team you can't sleep on, and they shot themselves back into the game.
"We let them back in and we can't do that. We stepped up our intensity defensively and extended our lead."
The Panthers got the better of the inside game with Hankins and Kandice Green (16 points) combining for 41 points while guard LaKisha Walker added 12. They also shot 16-for-20 from the free-throw line.
"They're so athletic and they have so many weapons that can score that if you have one momentary lapse, St. Frances will make you pay. They're a very well balanced, well coached team," said Eagles coach Tom Gizzi, whose team dropped to 5-1 overall and 4-1 in the conference.