By Matthew Snyder
Since practice began in the preseason, the Lowell girls basketball team has worked tirelessly toward improving its fast-break offense.
For the first month of the season, the Cardinals focused exclusively upon pushing the ball upcourt. Even in midseason they must make a set number of fast-break layups during the first five minutes of practice or else suffer consequences.
That fast-paced base paid dividends in Monday’s Academic Athletic Association game at Lincoln, where the Cardinals beat the Mustangs at their own game by pushing the tempo on offense on the way to a 72-42 Academic Athletic Association rout.
“They’re used to playing on the fast break and I’m glad to see them do it,” said Lowell head coach Aki Kuwada . “But sometimes when we can’t do that, and when we have to set up halfcourt, we just kind of zone out and play street ball. And this is a great game to practice what we need to do later on [in the season]. They have to start understanding the type of competition we’re going to play later on, and start doing these things a little bit better.”
The Cardinals (18-5, 8-0) burst out of the gate and scored the first nine points of the game with an up-tempo flourish. Lincoln (11-12, 5-3) had no answer for Lowell senior forwards Taylor Sui (nine points) and Lorna Tuufuli (six points), who dominated the paint during the first quarter.
After the Cardinals scored the first five points of the second quarter, Lincoln roared back with 12 unanswered points of their own to tie the game at 26-26. Senior guard Maggie Chen had seven points during the run, and ended the game with a team-high 10 points.
“I just can’t get my second unit to play up to the level of my first unit yet,” Kuwada said. “That’s why we weren’t too excited when it was tied, because we knew that once we got the first group back in the game, we would separate a little bit. I gotta try to get that second unit to maintain the level of the first team.”
In the third quarter, Lowell limited Lincoln to just three points and transformed an eight-point halftime lead into a 61-33 blowout. Lowell guards Katarina Lum, Angie Ng and Kelly Wong combined for seven steals in that quarter and feasted on the fast-break oportunities.
Lum poured in nine points in the quarter, most of which came off transition layups generated from turnovers. The senior guard ended with a game-high 18 points and five steals.
“The third quarter was a classic example in which I told [my team], they think they can hang with [Lowell] now, and they start to do their own thing [on offense],” said Lincoln head coach Jason Lee. “We did not challenge, we did not compete. So unfortunately, it’s going to be an interesting result.”
Katarina Lum – 18
Taylor Sui – 12
Cynthia Wong – 9
Angie Ng – 7
Kelly Wong – 7
Maggie Chen – 10
Sophia Nguyen – 8
Michelle Wong – 7
Ezra DeAsis – 6
Corinne Tam – 5