MURRAY — With a halftime lead of 24-9 here on Tuesday, it looked like the Murray girls were on their way to a blowout victory over Lamoni in front of a jam-packed crowd.
But, Lamoni amped up its defensive pressure in the second half, and clawed its way back into the ball game, going on a 23-7 run to take its first lead of the game at 32-31 with 4:17 remaining in the game.
“We only gave up nine points in the first half. I was really, really pleased with the way we were playing,” head coach Jerry Shields said. “We were being aggressive, we were passing the ball well on offense. We got a little stagnant there at one point on offense, but we were able to get through that and keep going strong until the half. But then the second half was a different story.”
The Lady Demons defense closed off all of Murray’s passing lanes in the second half, creating a number of turnovers that led to transition baskets or free throw opportunities.
But, after Lamoni took its 32-31 lead, Murray had an answer.
Junior post player Megan Oswald, who had been sitting on the bench with four fouls, checked back into the game and made an immediate impact.
On back-to-back trips down the floor, Oswald grabbed an offensive rebound and made the putback, giving the Mustangs a 35-32 lead with 3:09 left in the game.
Murray never relinquished that lead, as Deena Snyder made 1-of-2 free throws and Kate Patton got a steal and a layup with :50 left to put the Mustangs up 38-32.
“She (Oswald) had four fouls and we ended up having to put her back in with about 6:30 to go, and she came in and had two offensive rebounds,” Shields said. “She did a really nice job being able to come in and do that for us, and it gave us that spark that got us the lead back. After that, we didn’t ever lose that lead again.”
Lamoni’s Karli Smith hit a 3-pointer to cut the lead back to three points with :38 left to play, but Patton sank two free throws and Courtney Siefkas ended the game with an offensive rebound and putback off of a missed free throw, as Murray held on to win 42-35.
The Lady Mustangs, now 14-3 for the season, return to action Thursday when they host Interstate 35.
“That’ll be a tough battle,” Shields said. “I told the kids after, the Pride of Iowa is always a more physical conference than ours is, so we have to be able to play physical. They’re not a bad ballclub. They’ve had some upsets of teams this year.”
LAMONI (35) — Kyra Stevenson 4 1-1 9, Tiffany Brunner 3 1-2 9, Brittany Larsen 1 6-11 8, Karli Smith 2 0-0 6, Baily Bjorland 2 0-0 4. Team fouls — 17. Fouled out — None.
MURRAY (42) — Kate Patton 5 5-7 15, Megan Oswald 4 1-2 9, Cheyanne Ashby 3 1-2 7, Ashley Rider 1 2-4 4, Courtney Siefkas 2 0-1 4, Deena Snyder 1 1-3 3. Totals — 16 10-19 42. Team fouls — 10. Fouled out — None.
Lamoni — 7 9 25 35
Murray — 13 24 31 42