CAPE GIRARDEAU -- The Dexter Lady Bearcats missed an opportunity to send a statement against conference and, more importantly, district rival Notre Dame's Lady Bulldogs.
Notre Dame defeated Dexter 48-39 in a SEMO Conference matchup at Notre Dame Regional High School on Monday.
"Again, it goes back to not a whole lot of passion," said Dexter coach Gavin Miller, of the Lady Bearcats' effort with conference and district implications on the line.
"Forget all that," he said. "Just say ND (Notre Dame). That fires me up."
Dexter (17-5, 4-3) opened with a 6-0 lead, then led 8-1 with about 2:30 left in the first quarter.
Notre Dame (12-10, 5-2) rallied to force a tie at 10 as the period expired. The Lady Bulldogs went up 12-10 to open the second stanza and never lost the lead again.
Dexter trailed 26-19 at the half.
In the third quarter, with Kristain Burger and Merideth Medlin scoring all the points, Notre Dame extended its lead to 10 at 40-30. Burger had eight of her game-high 17 points, while Medlin scored six of her 15.
Dexter, led by Amanda Dooley's nine points, had no scorer in double figures. Bailey Stanley added eight, Taylor Nelson seven.
"We've got to step up to a big challenge," said Miller. "Some of my good players didn't step up tonight."
Dexter did cut into the lead, trailing 43-39 with 2:12 left, but that was as close as they would get.
Notre Dame, with no field goals in the final quarter, iced the game from the free-throw line, hitting 8-of-14 in the fourth.
The Lady Bearcats scored only two points in the final two minutes.
Dexter, hitting 10-of-24 2s (41.6 percent) and 4-of-12 3s (33 percent), didn't enjoy one of its better shooting nights, but Miller said he thought his team had good looks and ran the offense well.
He added, "Outside of Burger getting easy baskets, I thought we played a half-way decent game."
Notre Dame shot 14-of-26 from 2-point range and 3-of-13 from beyond the arc.
Notre Dame coach Jerry Grim, on the Bearcats relatively low scoring output and shooting percentages, said, "That had a lot to do with our defense, I hope."
Dexter played without key senior reserve Jessica Fowler, who suffered a torn ACL in the Charleston game.
Miller was not fooled by Notre Dame's just slightly better than .500 record.
"They're playing the St. Josephs, the Nerinx Halls, the Incarnate Words," he said. "Of course, they're going to have that type of record. What Jerry (Grim) and this program reminds me of is the New Madrid days of the late 90s. Lennies (coach McFerren) was winning district championships with 15-7, 15
-8 records because they were playing all those big programs. It makes you better. We're trying to improve that (scheduling), too."
Notre Dame, winners of seven of its last eight games, seems on track going into the district in mid-February.
"When we had six games to go, I told the girls I wanted to win five out of those six," said Grim. "This was our fourth. At this time of the year that's what you want. The kids are getting better and better."
Miller, on the other hand, is looking for a way to induce more consistency from his Lady Bearcats.
"I told them, 'you've got this God-given ability, so use it 100 mph,' That's what I'm wanting," he said. "We'll do it for a game or two, then we don't for a game or two.
"We've just got to get back to practice the next two days, get back to basics, have a little fun and get them energized. This isn't the end of the world. We've just got to dig down."
Notre Dame edged Dexter 40-39 in the junior varsity game.