MURRAY — Murray guard Kate Patton said the Mustangs’ offense wasn’t clicking Tuesday night, so she took matters into her own hands.
“I knew we had to try driving and get fouls on them,” said the speedy 5-5 junior.
Three key East Union starters fouled out as 24 fouls were assessed against East Union, and Patton made a steady march to the free throw line all night. She made 21 of 29 foul shots in scoring a career-high 31 points as the Mustangs prevailed, 43-33, in a Class 1A Region 7 quarterfinal game.
Murray also had its share of foul difficulties, charged with 20 fouls and two starters with four violations.
But, East Union was only 8-15 at the line. Outscored 25-8 on free throws, East Union coach Matt Delger said it wasn’t hard determining the difference in the game.
“She (Patton) is really good at drawing shooting fouls,” Delger said.
“I look for holes, and when I see an opening I try to drive,” Patton explained. “If I see a girl there, I’ll try to get some contact. If the shot goes in, hopefully I’ll get a foul out of it, too.”
Murray coach Jerry Shields, frustrated to the point of calling two first-quarter timeouts as the team fell behind by scores of 9-5 and 11-6 in the early going, said Patton’s knack for getting to the line saved the day in an otherwise lackluster offensive performance.
“If she doesn’t penetrate and get those fouls, we don’t win,” Shields said. “We were just so flat. We weren’t doing a lot of the little things — executing on offense, playing weakside defense, rebounding with two hands. We started playing better, but we never could pull away.”
Murray gained its first lead of the game (14-13) in the second quarter during an 8-0 run, and held a 20-14 halftime advantage. Patton, cold at the line at the start, went on a hot streak and had 11 points at halftime.
East Union center Kelsey Hoff used her height advantage to score six points in the first period, but would add only one more basket.
“Our game plan was to pound it inside,” Delger said, “but we’re not as good getting it inside when we lose our senior guards to fouls.”
While there were turnovers on both sides, East Union did a decent job of handling Murray’s pressure when seniors Dusti Carlisle and Rochelle Means were the primary ballhandlers. And, Brittany Malone was helping the offense with 12 points.
All three were gone with five fouls during the fourth quarter.
“Carlisle and Means are kind of my rocks out there for pressure and getting us into offense,” Delger said. “Malone rimmed out a 3-pointer there in fourth quarter when it was a seven-point game. That goes in, you’re at four, and we could take a timeout and set up some pressure and what we want to do. We were close. We believed we could beat them.”
Earlier in the season East Union led Murray by one point at halftime, and lost by 18. The Eagles close at 5-17 and lose seniors Chelsea Hoyt, Carlisle and Means. Three starters return in juniors Hoff and Malone and freshman Kali Mertens.
Murray (16-5) travels to Afton Friday to meet 19-4 Villisca in the semifinals. Shields said it will take a better performance to be successful.
“They’re a good ballclub,” he said. “They are quick, with three really good players in Jill Vanderhoof, Amanda Focht and Morganne Haer. They all average around 13 or 14 points. They like to get out and run and get transition baskets. We like to run, too, but we never were able to do that tonight.”
EAST UNION (33) — Brittany Malone 5 2-2 12, Kelsey Hoff 4 0-0 8, Rochelle Means 2 2-3 7, Kali Mertens 1 1-2 3, Dusti Carlisle 0 2-5 2, Stacia Bryson 0 1-2 1. Totals — 12 8-15 33. 3-point goals — 1 (Means 1). Team fouls — 24. Fouled out — Carlisle, Means, Malone.
MURRAY (43) — Kate Patton 5 21-29 31, Madison Gonseth 1 2-5 4, Megan Oswald 1 0-0 2, Ashley Rider 1 0-2 2, Cheyanne Ashby 1 0-0 2, Deena Snyder 0 2-4 2. Totals — 9 25-40 43. 3-point goals — None. Team fouls — 20. Fouled out — None.
East Union — 11 14 24 33
Murray — 8 20 30 43