By Aidan Fitzsimon
Sacred Heart Cathedral and Washington were identical in nearly every facet of the game on Thursday night — except on the boards.
Throughout the second half, the visiting Irish dominated the rebounding game, especially on offense, which proved the difference in a 58-51 non-league victory.
Sacred Heart (4-4) had a slow start offensively and trailed 16-15 at the end of the first quarter, but as the game wore on the floor opened up and the Irish got open looks.
“Offensively, we finally settled down a little bit,” said Sacred Heart head coach Mike Carey, “Our [post players] Ashley [Gainer] and [Ann Marie Sequeira] kept working so hard and we don’t get them the ball enough and reward them. Once we did that, we were able to draw the defense, [then] they started making shots and rewarding themselves.”
The Irish also drained five 3-pointers in the second half and carried a 43-38 lead into the fourth quarter. Three of those 3-pointers came from junior guard Briannah Smith, who had 11 points in the second half and finished with a game-high 18.
“Usually, my instinct is to pass, but in this game, at the beginning, I noticed I was hot, so when I got the ball I was looking to shoot,” Smith said.
The Eagles (6-3) were led by senior center Phacharee Arunleung, who had 15 points and junior forward Karah Butac who added seven.
“We played pretty good defense tonight,” said Washington head coach Vince Wong. “We just got beat on the boards.”
Washington had the momentum through most of the first half and it appeared as though the Eagles would have a 27-25 lead at the break, but Sacred Heart junior guard Amanda Vega drained a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc as the horn sounded to give the Irish the lead heading into the second half.
After the break, the Eagles couldn’t catch the Irish and the closest they would get was when Washington cut the Sacred Heart lead to 34-33 with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
After a disappointing loss to Lowell early in the season, the Irish are back at .500 and will look to return standout sophomore guard GeAnna Summers-Luaulu from injury next week when they venture to Seattle, Wash. for the Slalom Slam tournament in Seattle.
“[We had] ten healthy bodies tonight,” Carey said. “Hopefully we will have GeAnna back in a week and we will be set to go at full strength [when] league starts.”
Sacred Heart Cathedral
Briannah Smith — 18
Ann Marie Sequeira — 12
Ashley Gainer — 11
Amanda Vega — 6
Janine Wong — 5
Phacharee Arunleung — 15
Karah Butac — 7
Raelyn Cheung-Sutton — 6
Grace Lui — 6
Sara Chin — 3