(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- Despite getting a late scare by Caruthersville, the Charleston Lady Bluejays were able to hold on and claim their third win of the season Thursday night.
Facing Charleston's younger role players in the fourth after the Bluejays had built a dominant 35-point lead, the Lady Tigers offense suddenly sparked to life, opening the frame on an 18-2 tear to cut their deficit to 17 with just under two minutes to play.
Not taking any chances, the Bluejays were forced to put some of their starters back in the game to hold the line and secure what ended up ended up being a 62-46 win.
"We're up by 30, then 20 and then 15, I couldn't hold out (putting our veterans back in) any longer," Charleston head coach Josh Thompson said. "Even when we put our varsity back in, they still got a couple points on us.
"We played so well the first three quarters I couldn't (let us) blow that."
Before Caruthersville's late charge, the game had been pretty much all Charleston. Building a 12-point advantage entering the second frame, the Lady Bluejays came away with their biggest frame of the evening, scoring 24 points to push their lead going into the break to 45-16.
Charleston continued to pull away from the Lady Tigers up until they took their biggest lead of the night, 37 points, with just over five-and-a-half minutes to play in the third.
It was when Charleston decided to rest some of their veterans during that same time period that Caruthersville was able to start to turn things around.
Finishing the third quarter by outscoring the Lady Bluejays 8-4, the Tigers were able to build enough momentum leading to their hot start to the fourth.
Going on the above mentioned 18-2 run to start the final frame, Caruthersville forced Charleston to call a timeout with 1:44 to play when Emery Branch came away with a steal and went in for a lay up to close the gap to 59-42.
With the Bluejays' starters back in the game, however, they were able to clamp down and only allow four more points in the final 1:44 while Ewing hit one last basket an ensuing foul shot.
"We played alright," said the Bluejays' Jasmine Spence. "We hadn't played a game in awhile so it was good (for our first game back)."
Spence's 10 points on the night tied her for third on the team while also coming away with four assists and six steals.
"I thought we did pretty well the first half tonight," Charleston's Eneikqua Ewing said. "The second half we kind of slacked off. We just have to pick it up."
Ewing tied Caruthersville's Tamora Fonda with a game-high 17 points while posting seven rebounds and seven steals. She was followed by Garbrielle Quinn who contributed 11 points, seven steals and two assists for the Bluejays.
"I thought we did pretty well the first half tonight," Ewing said. "The second half we kind of slacked off. We just have to pick it up."
With a total of five Charleston players scoring in the double-digits on the night, Thompson is glad to see his team able to thrive without having to push the work load on any one particular player.
"We're diversifying the work load that way when somebody has a bad night, somebody is able to pick up the slack or you'll have four people in double figures," he said. "That makes us harder to stop."
Giving Bluejays fans another reason to cheer, Thursday night's game also marked a successful return for junior Kasuela Cooper, who had been lost to injury since the second game of the season. Cooper finished with 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
At 3-5 on the season, the Lady Bluejays will take part in the Scott-Mississippi Conference Tournament starting Monday.
CARUTHERSVILLE (46) -- Deliesha Lee 12, Tamora Fonda 17, Veyanna Carter 5, Emery Branch 12. FG 18, FT 5-21, F 17. (3-pointers: Lee 2, Fonda 2, Branch 1. Fouled out: Lee).
CHARLESTON (62) -- Garbrielle Quinn 11, Kendra Hines 4, Taylor Duenne 10, Kasuela Cooper 10, Eneikqua Ewing 17, Jasmine Spence 10. FG 25, FT 9-18, F 15. (3-pointers: Quinn 1, Duenne 2. Fouled out: none).