It took the McDowell Lady Titans the better part of a half to size up their prey Tuesday, but then they pounced.
McDowell pulled away from the Alexander Central Cougars with a solid, second-half effort and cruised to a 51-37 win that wasn’t as close as the final might seem to indicate.
The Lady Titans (8-3 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference, 14-7 overall) led by as many as 21 in the final period before the Cougars (1-10, 2-19) closed out the game with a mini-rally.
McDowell got a huge game from senior guard Dezi Williams, who posted game-highs of 14 points, 14 rebounds, five steals and four assists. Williams scored 10 of her points after the break.
Makaylah Chandler joined Williams in double figures and made a pair of key 3-pointers during an 11-0, third-quarter run that put the Lady Titans in command. Makenna Parkins (7 rebounds, 2 steals) tossed in 10.
Their performances and another in a long line of outstanding rebounding games helped McDowell overcome abysmal shooting; the Lady Titans hit for just 24 percent of their field goals.
“I thought defensively, we had a lot of energy and got after it and did some good things,” said Lady Titans head coach Jennifer Kinninger. “I felt like we did a better job tonight than we did down there of getting on the boards and not giving them as many offensive rebounds.”
McDowell held a 22-12 edge in offensive boards against the taller Cougars and owned a 47-43 overall advantage. Post Naliyah Boyce (3 points) pulled 12 boards to join Williams in double figures.
The Lady Titans also did a good job taking care of the ball, turning it over just 12 times compared to 24 for Alexander Central. McDowell didn’t commit a single turnover in the decisive third quarter.
“The third quarter and the beginning of the fourth were our turning points. We were able to make some baskets, where in the first half, I felt like we got looks and they just didn’t fall. That let us get into our press and that really helped us there in the third quarter.”
McDowell jumped out to a 10-2 start, but Central fought back and briefly took the lead at 16-15 midway through the second period.
But the Lady Titans scored the final five points of the first half to break a 17-17 tie, and went into the locker room with a 22-17 advantage.
Alexander Central was as close as 25-21 before McDowell made its pivotal run. Chandler’s 3 off a Boyce assist made it 28-21 with 4:10 to go in the third. Williams made a steal and hit two free throws just 10 seconds later for a 30-21 edge.
After another Cougars turnover, Parkins made one of two at the stripe for a double-digit lead. Another triple from Chandler, this one off a Williams assist, and a pair of free throws from Parkins capped the run with McDowell ahead 36-21 at the 1:56 mark.
Alexander Central never threatened again.
Teagan Pennell (7 rebounds) led the Cougars with 10 points. Gracie Harrington added nine points. Post Nikki Hagy scored eight and pulled a team-high 13 rebounds.
But the Cougars also shot it poorly, hitting for just 28 percent, including a 21-percent effort in the second half.
McDowell played without the services of starting guard Zoe Miller (illness).
The Lady Titans, in sole possession of third place in the league standings, are at home Friday against South Caldwell (4:30 jayvee girls).
Alexander Central (37) Malorie Glenn 1-4 0-0 2, Nikki Hagy 3-8 2-5 8, Lanie Hammer 2-11 0-4 4, Jordan Black 1-1 0-0 2, Teagan Pennell 3-7 2-2 10, Karly Fairchild 0-4 0-0 0, Gracie Harrington 2-6 5-6 9, Ivy Fortner 1-3 0-0 2. Totals: 13-46 9-14 37.
McDowell (51) Makaylah Chandler 4-14 1-2 11, Makenna Parkins 2-14 6-7 10, Naliyah Boyce 0-5 3-8 3, Candace Cooper 2-6 0-0 5, Dezi Williams 5-11 4-4 14, Tayla Wood 0-1 0-2 0, Alana Stephenson 2-7 2-2 6, Daisy Rice 0-1 2-3 2, Silese Carson 0-3 0-0 0. Totals: 15-62 18-28 51.
Central 06 11 09 11 – 37
McDowell 11 11 16 13 – 51
Rebounds: AC (43) MHS (47) Rebound leaders: AC (Hagy 13) MHS (Williams 14, Boyce 12) 3-point goals: AC (2-9) MHS (3-16) AC (Hammer 0-4, Pennell 2-4, Harrington 0-1) MHS (Williams 0-4, Chandler 2-4, Cooper 1-4, Stephenson, Rice 0-1, Carson 0-2) MHS assist leaders: (Williams 4) MHS steals leaders: (Williams 5) MHS blocked shot leaders: (Williams, Boyce 1) Turnovers: AC (24) MHS (12) Fouled out: MHS (Parkins 1:38—fourth)