The momentum belonged to Arundel when the third quarter ended in Monday night's game at St. Frances. After trailing by 14 points in the first half, the Wildcats shaved the lead to three heading into the final period.
But No. 5 St. Frances took over after that. Briana Hutchen scored 11 of her game-high 28 points in the fourth quarter, and the Panthers held No. 6 Arundel without a basket in the period and pulled away en route to a 64-45 victory.
Hutchen dominated on the boards and down low. The 5-foot-11 senior guard-forward completed her double double with 14 rebounds and added four steals. She scored 11 straight Panthers points in the final 4:10 to turn a close game into a laugher.
"For us, we saw they were making a run, so we had to make a bigger run," Hutchen said. "I saw I could attack ... saw the lane and I just took it."
She took it several times. Hutchen's follow-up jumper gave St. Frances (2-1) a 53-41 lead with 4:07 left. She followed that with a long jumper, three layups and a free throw to break the game open.
St. Frances coach Jerome Shelton said the Panthers knew Arundel would make a run after a shaky first half in which the Panthers took a 24-10 lead midway through the second quarter. Arundel's Sheronne Vails (20 points) picked up two quick first-quarter fouls and sat the rest of the half, but when the 6-foot-4 forward returned in the third quarter, the Wildcats woke up offensively.
Vails dominated play inside in that third quarter, scoring 11 points to help cut the St. Frances lead to 42-39 heading into the fourth.
But the Panthers didn't waver. They turned up their defensive pressure and harassed Arundel (1-1) all over the court, forcing the Wildcats to go 0-for-9 from the field and causing nine turnovers.
"We have an experienced, together team," Shelton said. "We just talk about weathering storms - and we did."
"When you're on defense all the time, it's tough," Arundel coach Lee Rogers said. "They were the aggressors."
A-Vails 20, Watson 11, Mahdi 1, Grant 6, Smith 1, McKellery 4, Vails 20, Milton 2. Totals: 11 22-25 45
S-Bristow 4, Britt 3, Harmon 9, Hawkes 16, Hutchen 28, Kassama 3, King 1. Totals: 22 17-26 64
Half: S, 29-20