(Photo by Brent Shipman, Staff)
CHARLESTON -- Rebounding from a rough second quarter that left them down by nine points at the half, the Charleston Lady Bluejays used a strong third frame to recapture the lead en route to a 60-54 win.
"I felt like we did really well tonight," Charleston's Kasuela Cooper said. "We came out strong, but then in the second quarter we just got a little too excited in the beginning and fell off a little bit.
"In the second half we came back strong. We really wanted it."
Their collapse came after the Bluejays (6-8) were able to control the first nine-and-a-half minutes of the game, going up 23-10 just over a minute into the second.
Starting with a Kristen Vetter basket with 6:32 left before the half, Kelly (7-9) quickly came back on the Bluejays, retaking the lead with 2:27 left in the frame when Kayla Hicks hit a jump shot to make it 27-26.
The Lady Hawks were able to finish the half scoring another eight unanswered points to move ahead 35-26 entering the break.
"We had a lot of negativity going on," Cooper said of her team's second quarter performance. "When we got in the locker room and talked it out we decided we really want this and came out of the half and played hard for it."
Swinging momentum their way once again, the Bluejays opened the second half with a Taylor Duenne basket and slowly worked their way back to a tie with the Lady Hawks late in the third. Ending the frame, Eneikqua Ewing scored five unanswered points to retake the lead hitting one-of-two free throws before putting the Bluejays up 48-43 entering the fourth quarter.
"We came out (of the half) great," Ewing said. "We came out hard and ready to play."
Though unable to reclaim the lead, the Lady Hawks hung tight with the Lady Bluejays, closing to within two when Hicks hit two free throw to make it 53-51 with 2:22 to play.
Unfortunately for Kelly, two turnovers on their next couple of possessions allowed Charleston to push back ahead by eight points on a Cooper shot with 1:12 left to play. The Lady Hawks were unable to get any closer than five points in the final minute.
"I thought we ran out of gas at the end," Kelly assistant coach Trey Simmons said. "But you can't forget about Charleston. They were down just like we were and they came back, fought and came through."
Leading Charleston's comeback Cooper finished the night with 23 points along with 20 rebounds, three steals and a block. Finishing second on the Bluejays, Ewing had 19 points, 12 rebounds and a steal.
Obviously disappointed with a rough second quarter, Charleston head coach Josh Thompson was proud of how his responded to adversity.
"We talked about at halftime that we were kind of down," Thompson said. "But I said, 'I'm not going to lie to you, this is still our game. If we come out and play like we did in the first quarter we'll win it.'
"The second half Cooper and Ewing got the ball down low and (Jasmine) Spence continued distributing the ball really well and handled it really well. That's what we have to do to be good. Get the ball in the paint."
Earlier in the night Kelly's junior varsity came away with a 44-27 win over Charleston's junior varsity. The Lady Hawks were led by Katie Koonce 16 points while the Lady Bluejays' Demeshia Owens also finished with 16 points.
KELLY (54) -- Kaitlin Glastetter 3, Haley Glastetter 1, Karlie Ashcraft 3, Kristen Vetter 9, Kayla Hicks 23, Kristen Powell 15. FG 20, FT 13-23, F 18. (3-pointers: Powell 1. Fouled out: Ashcraft)
CHARLESTON (60) -- Garbrielle Quinn 6, Taylor Duenne 3, Kasuela Cooper 23, Eneikqua Ewing 19, Lakeisha Wilson 5, Jasmine Spence 2, Demeshia Owens 2. FG 25, FT 9-24, F 18. (3-pointers: Duenne 1. Fouled out: Ewing)