NSA edges conference rival

Published 10:54 pm Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nansemond-Suffolk got its first conference win and avenged a loss earlier in the season to Norfolk Academy by holding the visiting Lady Bulldogs to one field goal in the last 7:26 of play and coming from behind for a 39-35 victory on Tuesday evening.

In early December in Norfolk, Norfolk Academy handed the Lady Saints a 55-39 loss. In the second meeting, the one which counts toward in the Tidewater Conference standings, NSA trailed most of the game until taking a 35-34 lead with about four minutes to play in the game.

Seniors Jenna Starkey and Morgan Newhall led the Lady Saints. Starkey totaled 15 points, nine rebounds and eight steals. Newhall scored all 13 of her points in the second half and grabbed 11 rebounds.

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Newhall’s offense was crucial in bringing the Saints back from what was a 21-13 Norfolk Academy lead one possession into the second half.

In the first half, Norfolk Academy stifled NSA’s offense except for eight points by Starkey. Fortunately for the Lady Saints, they also held NA scoreless for long stretches of the half, so despite 10 turnovers and 1 for 6 free throw shooting by NSA, the game was right within reach.

In the third period, NSA broke Norfolk Academy’s full-court pressing well and got good shot attempts, but it took awhile for those shots to fall.

Newhall made two at the line, then, getting the ball with a 3 on 2 break after NSA broke NA’s press, Newhall canned a short jumper to bring NSA within 21-20 with 3:38 left in the third period.

In the last minute of the third, Newhall scored, curling to the basket and making a lay-in from a pass from Starkey. After a Norfolk Academy miss, Starkey scored a lay-up on a 3 on 1 break. Starkey’s basket tied the game at 28-28.

Norfolk Academy got the final basket of the third period and the first hoop in the fourth period to regain a 32-28 lead.

Again, a series plays by Newhall switched the game back into NSA’s favor. Newhall drove and hit a pull-up jumper, then made a pair at the line, making it 32-32 with 6:35 left.

NSA’s zone defense troubled Norfolk Academy for most of the game. Most of the NA’s problem came from Starkey’s ability to jump into the passing lanes. Five of Starkey’s eight steals came in the second half and with the close game, each took away an important Norfolk Academy possession.

On NA’s next possession after NSA tying the game, it was Newhall who picked off a pass toward the left wing and went for a breakaway lay-up to put NSA up 34-32.

A free throw by Virginia Hassell put NSA in front 35-34 and a defensive struggle ensued for the next three minutes.

Norfolk Academy had chances to take the lead at the line, but the Lady Bulldogs, as part of shooting 3 for 14 at the line for the game, wasted the chances.

With the clock ticking toward a minute left, an NSA possession looked over after Grace Saunders missed a baseline jumper and NA grabbed the rebound. Starkey picked off NA’s outlet pass and was fouled going in for a lay-up. Starkey made both free throws and NSA led 37-34 with 1:00 left.

Another defensive stop by the Lady Saints was followed by Newhall making 1 of 2 at the line with 0:39 left and NA couldn’t make the game a one-possession margin again.

Nansemond-Suffolk (5-8, 1-1) hosts Cape Henry on Thursday evening. The Lady Saints beat Cape Henry in Virginia Beach two weeks ago.