“We have nothing to be ashamed of,” a teary-eyed Ruff said. “They’re No. 1. No one thought we were ever going to be that close to them and we were within a basket of them. We missed a few box-outs we should have had, but we all fought.”
Following a 12-all standoff in the first quarter, Irvington appeared poised to turn this one into a laugher in the second.
The Yellowjackets (20-2) turned the ball over repeatedly, hit one field goal and went 2-for-8 from the free throw line — including the front end of two 1-and-1s — en route to being outscored, 17-4.
“Our offense went stagnant with the dribble and we weren’t attacking,” Miller said of his team’s second-quarter struggles. “It was a lot of East- and West-type dribbling. We weren’t getting good ball movement with the passes either, and when you’re not moving the ball, it’s easy to defend. They went on a good run. They got stops and then scored on the other end.”
It took the Bulldogs about 2 ½ minutes to turn a 14-all tie into a 25-14 lead.
Lai hit a short pull-up jumper along the baseline, Martins put back her own miss, Alyssa DiCampli made an uncontested layup off an inbound play, Lai swished a three from the right wing, and the powerful Martins ended the run by putting back her miss again.
“I think we played much better defense in the second quarter than we did in any other quarter and good defense leads to good offense,” Maher said. “We took them out of sync. We wanted to get them out of sync, especially Mariah. If we could get her a little bit out of sync, then maybe we could get the rest of the team of out of sync, because this team sort of goes the way she goes. Thank God for the second quarter.”