NSA defense snaps streak

Published 11:09 pm Friday, December 12, 2008

It wasn’t pretty for the Lady Saints on Thursday night, but it was a win, and it snapped a three-game losing streak as Nansemond-Suffolk’s hustle and defense was enough for a 41-25 win over visiting Atlantic Shores.

The opening week of the season was a busy one for Kim Aston’s NSA team. The Lady Saints breezed by Windsor in their opener last Wednesday before losing on Friday and Saturday to Group AAA schools First Colonial and Cox.

“First Colonial and Cox were definitely better teams than us,” said Aston.


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On Tuesday, the Lady Saints lost 55-39 at rival Norfolk Academy in a non-Tidewater Conference game.

“Against Norfolk Academy, they pressured us and we didn’t handle it well at all,” said Aston.

On Thursday night, while NSA’s offense sputtered for much of the game, the Lady Saints forced 32 Atlantic Shores turnovers for the game and held the Lady Seahawks to 13 points through three quarters.

“We missed easier shots, shots we normally make. If we made those shots, we could’ve won by 30 or more points. But I’m pleased with the game tonight. We just have to concentrate and finish our easy shots,” said Aston.

NSA’s defensive intensity took its toll against the visitors right away. In the first 2:08 of the game, Atlantic Shores turned the ball over four times while being unable to get a shot attempt off. Virginia Hassell got NSA off to a good offensive start, knocking down two jumpers to give NSA a 5-0 lead.

With NSA up 7-3 a couple minutes later, Kelsey Ritter scored on an offensive rebound and put-back. Jenna Starkey then stole an Atlantic Shores pass as NSA used a full-court press. Starkey finished the lay-in to make it 11-3 NSA.

At halftime, NSA led 21-8. The shooting between the teams was at a similar percentage, but with a 29-14 rebounding advantage and a 15-5 steal advantage, NSA was ahead by volume of shots. If it was on the gridiron, NSA had the time of possession in its favor. The Lady Saints had tried 42 field goals while Atlantic Shores had been able to take only 15 attempts.

“We controlled the ball well,” said Starkey, a senior guard who finished with 18 points, 12 rebounds and seven steals for NSA.

“Sometimes we didn’t make the shots we need to be making, but we kept the ball and hustled well,” said Starkey.

Up 25-13 nearing the end of the third period, forward Grace Saunders led NSA on a 9-0 run in the last couple minutes of the third and into the first minute of the fourth quarter. Saunders scored six of the nine points, two at the foul line, then a bucket off an offensive rebound, then a driving 10-foot jumper along the baseline on NSA’s first possession of the fourth quarter to put NSA ahead by a commanding margin, 34-13.

Saunders finished with 10 points and eight rebounds. Morgan Newhall, usually a steady scorer from the outside for the Lady Saints, scored only one point, but added nine rebounds and six steals. Hassell finished with nine points. Ritter, the only sub Aston used until the final few minutes of the game, had six rebounds and three assists.

NSA (2-3, 0-0) plays at Portsmouth Christian on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.