NA spoils Lady Saint home opener

Published 10:17 pm Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nansemond-Suffolk’s girls basketball coach Kim Aston had a straightforward explanation for her team’s 49-36 loss against visiting Norfolk Academy Tuesday evening.

“On Friday night we rebounded, or at least did a better job of it. Tonight, we didn’t box out at all and we didn’t rebound at all,” said Aston.

On Friday night, the Lady Saints opened their season with a 40-36 win over Portsmouth Christian.

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On Tuesday, in a non-Tidewater Conference game, Norfolk Academy led the whole way and led by 17, 39-22, going to the fourth quarter. The Lady Saints put themselves at a disadvantage all night because of a lack of rebounding.

“When you give up six or seven shots on some possessions, you can’t win. Even when we broke their press, we get one shot and if it doesn’t go in, there’s no second shot,” said Aston.

NSA’s zone defense, with eighth-grader Macy Mears at the top of the key hounding NA’s guards around the perimeter, did a good job most of the night keeping NA’s offense from getting easy shots. NA’s steady work in the lane kept paying off though.

With NA up 9-2 early on, Grace Saunders dribbled past NA’s full-court press and made a 16-foot jumper. Mears followed with a three-pointer to make it 9-7 NA. NSA showed flashes of good ball movement and making mid- and long-range jumpers, but it wasn’t consistent enough.

NA led 24-15 at the half and got the first hoop of the third quarter. The Lady Saints answered by breaking NA’s press and attacking for good shots a few times during the next two minutes. Saunders, Mears and Virginia Hassell knocked down shots to bring NSA to within 26-21.

That was the closest NSA got in the second half and NA regained control by outscoring NSA 13-1 in the remaining 5:30 of the third quarter.

Hassell, an all-Tidewater Conference guard last season as a freshman, made her first three-pointer of the night to cut NA’s lead to 42-29 as the clock neared four minutes left.

Any Lady Saint momentum was quickly cut off though thanks to more offensive rebounding by NA. After a 1-for-2 trip to the line, NA got the rebound, wound up getting two more rebounds, and finally scored an odd three-point play.

“The one thing we did a good job with was getting the ball up the floor versus the press, and that’s something we struggled with last season. That wasn’t a problem,” said Aston. “We have to show some heart and desire. Rebounding is mostly about heart and desire and we had none of that on the floor.”

Hassell led the Lady Saints with 17 points, eight rebounds and three assists. Mears had seven points and three assists. Saunders had six points and eight rebounds.

NSA (1-1) hosts Windsor tonight at 7 p.m. NSA and NA meet for their TCIS game in late Jan. in Norfolk.