By Jeremy Balan
The Lowell girls basketball dynasty – and there’s no doubt that’s what it is – is showing no signs of ending any time soon.
The Cardinals’ quest for their seventh Academic Athletic Association title in eight years has been far from bumpy and the trend continued on Friday night with a 70-31 win over rival Washington at Kezar Pavilion.
Lowell (18-5, 8-0) has outscored AAA opponents by an average of over 34 points per game this season, and other than a five-point win on the road to Galileo, have not been challenged in league play. The Cardinals have also won 33 straight games against AAA opponents.
The Eagles (12-10, 7-1), at least according to the league standings, should have been a challenge and came into the game undefeated, but it became quickly apparent that they were not up to the task on Friday night. Lowell shot 11-of-14 from the floor in the first quarter, led by eight points from senior forward Taylor Sui, opened up a 24-9 lead and Washington never got back into the game.
“We just have motivated kids,” said Lowell head coach Aki Kuwada. “They’re motivated to do as well as they can and they buy into our system. It’s very difficult to – I mean, we’re trying to keep the scores down by subbing girls in, but the kids are playing so well, it’s difficult.”
Sui’s impact waned as the game progressed, but fellow senior forward Lorna Tu’ufuli’s did not. Tu’ufuli scored a team-high 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting from the floor and took in 13 rebounds. The Lowell forwards dominated in the paint against the undersized Eagles, who didn’t start a player taller than 5-foot-9.
“There’s certain things that we needed to do that we didn’t do,” said Washington head coach Vince Wong. “Their bigs had a fantastic game.”
Senior Hana Murphy, another tall Lowell forward, also had nine points off the bench, but the frontcourt wasn’t dominant on its own volition.
The Cardinals doled out 20 assists on their 29 total field goals, led by five apiece from guards Katarina Lum and Kelly Wong, and thrived in transition, turning Washington misses and turnovers into fast-break baskets.
“We tell them, if you’re patient enough, just look at the court,” Kuwada said. “You won’t always have a shot, but you have to look for somebody to open up and they’re doing that now.”
Lowell also brought in 13 offensive rebounds, which, combined with 23 Washington turnovers, allowed the Cardinals to take 17 more shots than the Eagles.
“It’s a numbers game,” Wong said of the shot disparity. “We needed to be more aggressive and we weren’t.”
Washington senior forward Karah Butac and sophomore guard Kate Nakano led the Eagles with seven points apiece, but four Cardinals scored in double figures – Tu’ufuli, Wong (11), Angie Ng (10) and Sui (10) – and Lowell shot 58 percent from the floor.
“We need more shots, because our shooting percentage hasn’t been great, but we were just on tonight,” Kuwada said. “Our game plan doesn’t change, though. We still play great defense and try to get out into transition.”
Lorna Tu’ufuli – 16
Kelly Wong – 11
Angie Ng – 10
Taylor Sui – 10
Hana Murphy – 9
Karah Butac – 7
Kate Nakano – 7
Simone House – 5
Grace Lui – 4
Michelle Lee – 3