Archrivals Mercy and the Institute of Notre Dame like to refer to their annual basketball matchup at the Towson Center as "The Game." By midway through the first quarter of last night's 43rd edition, however, it wasn't much of one.
Playing before a sellout crowd of 3,800 boisterous fans and alumnae, No. 12 Mercy dominated from the outset, time and again forcing turnovers and making IND pay at the offensive end in a 65-29 win.
"We were stressing [a quick start] all week," Mercy senior Maggie Marion said. "When we have the momentum, that changes the entire game. They weren't making their shots, and we happened to be making ours. We were just lucky tonight."
Mercy (14-5) has won four straight in the series, which it leads 27-16. The Magic also defeated the Indians this season by 35 points, though only one matchup each season counts in the official series record. This one was never close.
Leading 5-3 in the opening minutes, Mercy took command with an 11-0 run over the next four minutes, increasing its lead to 16-3 on Mary Stefanski's short jump shot. The Magic forced 11 turnovers in the quarter and 30 in the game.
IND (3-14), meanwhile, often settled for long-range jumpers in the early going before making an effort to get the ball to 6-foot-2 center Caitlin Bopp. With Bopp (18 points) their only real scoring threat, however, the Indians were never able to get back into contention.
"We knew they had great post play inside, but if there was an area that was not as good as their post, it was their guards," Magic coach Mary Ella Marion said. "We just wanted to create turnovers and create the easy buckets."
Maggie Marion, a 5-9 guard, scored 11 in the first half, including three three-pointers, as the Magic built a 31-9 lead at the break. She finished with a game-high 20 points.