By Matthew Snyder
In a frenzied game of seesawing runs, the Lincoln girls basketball team outlasted visiting University 53-48 on Thursday in the first round of the Lady Mustangs Holiday Classic.
The Mustangs (2-0) outhustled the Red Devils out of the gate, crashed the offensive glass and forced a number of turnovers to build a 15-6 lead midway through the second quarter.
But the University (1-1) responded with a comprehensive run of its own, scoring 15 unanswered points in the second quarter to take a 21-15 lead at the halftime break.
University forward Kayla Symanovich helped key that run with tough rebounding and a pair of assists. The junior finished with 11 points and five assists. Standout sophomore guard Katie Lo struggled with shooting throughout, but still finished with 10 points.
The Red Devils, stagnant in their halfcourt offense, hit their stride in transition with a fast-break offense that yielded easy layups.
“We got off to that great start, and got really energized,” said University head coach Jason Montana. “In the second quarter, we were able to outlet the ball and go. That’s going to be what we need to do this year. Our team defense was really good in that second quarter too.”
University kept control of the game through the early part of the third quarter by continuing to run effectively, but Lincoln stifled those fast-break opportunities and stemmed the widening deficit by switching to a zone defense, which frustrated the Red Devils into poor shots and more turnovers.
“When they switched to a zone [defense and] that stalled our offense a little bit,” Montana said. “I don’t know that we took the smartest shots and they were able to rebound and get out on the break. That changed the game.”
Lincoln head coach Jason Lee played mostly substitutes during the third quarter and credited that unit with sparking what became the game’s decisive comeback.
“I was pretty frustrated with how our regulars were playing,” Lee said. “I basically sat them in the third quarter, and great credit to the bench players, because they really stepped up. They proved to me that they can play. They brought the intensity back. That’s the only way we get better.”
Sophomore Monique Arce was one of those substitutes who changed the course of the game. Arce scored eight points in quick succession with the third quarter winding down to cut University’s lead from 35-19 to just 35-27 with 1:41 remaining.
With most of its backups still in, Lincoln strung together 15 unanswered points to take a 42-35 lead with 4:30 left in the fourth quarter. The Mustangs did not trail again.
“That’s a blessing in disguise tonight,” Lee said. “We appreciate the effort the subs put in, because it really woke the older girls up.”
Junior point guard Ezra DeAsis, who had just three points at halftime, scored nine in the fourth quarter to help consolidate the lead and finished with 15. Senior Michelle Wong added 13 points.
“We like to play up-tempo and pressure because we don’t have height, so we have to compensate elsewhere,” Lee said. “So I think in the third quarter, when the bench players came in, they really set that tempo, got a couple of steals and it really brought the life out of the sidelines, and once the regulars got back in they realized that they had to play better. The fresh legs helped and that worked for us.”
Ezra DeAsis – 15
Michelle Wong – 13
Monique Arce – 11
Nina Joyner – 4
Cheray Piper – 4
Kayla Symanovich – 11
Katie Lo – 10
Chloe Hoeber – 8
Nikki Symanovich – 6
Alana Zack – 4