Basketball purists say defense beats offense every time and on Monday defense beat offense and a lack of offense beat itself as Reading held on to stun Hillsdale 49-47 on the Hornets home court.
Aided by a number of effective presses and half-court traps, as well as the Hornets inability to make some easy baskets, the Rangers improved to 5-2 by beating a taller team that has more athletic players on paper.
“I don’t know, it’s pretty good. We wanted to play a spoiler, I think they expected to win at home and I was happy about this,” Reading head coach Ryan Mulnix said.
Following a loss to Quincy earlier this season Mulnix decided to steer away from applying full-court pressure, instead focusing his time and effort on mixing up different kinds of pressure throughout the contest.
With that mindset the Rangers were able to force eight Hornet turnovers in the third quarter alone, while Reading turned it over just nine times all evening as a team.
“We lost to Quincy and we had to make some changes and adjust on the fly because we’re not as deep as I thought we’d be, and we can’t stay in a full-court (press) all the time,” Mulnix said. “The girls have responded well and I’m proud of them.
Hillsdale head coach Nick Langston said too many missed opportunities is all he is left to think about, regardless of how the opposition’s defense played.
“We weren’t executing and we just couldn’t make baskets. That was the first problem, we just couldn’t get shots to go down. We only took a few bad shots, we just didn’t make them,” he said.
Mulnix said he relies on his “speedy guards” on both sides of the court, and his backcourt limited Julie Shaffer to two points and held Hornets’ starter Tiki Malone scoreless before she fouled out.
“We can’t win basketball games like that because they are our team,” Langston said. “They are my studs, and athletically wise we are better than Reading, they just out-played us tonight. They came to play.”
The Hornets had plenty of chances to get the ball in the post, and Jackie Anderson responded with 18 points and 13 rebounds, while Hayley Maystead and Stefani Skiendziel (four blocks) both scored nine.
But Anderson missed three point-blank shots in one possession at one point, coming away empty, an occurrence that happened all too often for the Hornets to build any sort of lead.
They did finally go on an 11-0 run to take a four-point lead midway through the fourth, but Nicole Marsh made a few key jumpers, Emily Sigler was clutch at the foul stripe (4-for-4) and Langston could only shrug his shoulders.
“We did what we wanted to do, we got the ball inside, we just missed the shots. What are you going to do? I can’t shoot it for them. We even missed two technical free-throws at a turning point in the game,” he said.
Marsh and Tessa Pridgeon provided the offensive sparks for Reading, pouring in 12 points apiece.
Pridgeon started slow, but came alive in the third quarter when she hit two 3-pointers and scored eight points.
“She said she could shoot 3s and she proved it tonight,” Mulnix said. “I’d like to see her shoot a little more if she gets open and I was just thankful it came tonight.”
Alex Mailahn added six points, five rebounds and two assists in the win and Sigler finished with eight points.
Anna Rumler had seven points and five assists for Hillsdale.