For the second game in a row, the McDowell Lady Titans played well enough to win in every facet of the game, save one.
For the second game in a row, the Lady Titans couldn’t throw it in the ocean.
McDowell (0-2) fell 45-35 to the East Burke Cavaliers in the home opener Wednesday. After shooting just 22 percent from the floor in their season-opening loss to R-S Central last Friday, the Lady Titans were only marginally better Wednesday, shooting 26 percent (10-39).
Poor free-throw shooting — McDowell missed half its 24 attempts — compounded the team’s struggles from the field; 26 turnovers didn’t help either.
The Lady Titans held East Burke (2-1) to 31-percent shooting and out-rebounded the Cavs by a 39-21 margin, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the errant shooting.
“This team plays so hard,” said McDowell head coach Jennifer Kinninger. “They are willing to give it all they have. They lay their bodies out on the line. I felt like defensively, we did a much better job this game. We really focused a lot on that because we had so many breakdowns against R-S Central, especially with our help-side and close-outs. We did a good job containing them defensively.
“But we are just struggling to get the ball in the hole, and I take responsibility for that.”
The game was tight throughout the first half and most of the third quarter. But East Burke got a decisive, 13-1 run to turn a five-point McDowell lead into a seven-point deficit.
East Burke guard Maya Chrisco scored all 10 of her points during the spurt, making two key 3-pointers and burying four free throws.
Graleigh Hildebran added 10 for the Cavs.
McDowell didn’t put anyone in double figures. Makenna Parkins (9 rebounds, 2 steals) led the way with nine points. Post Naliayah Boyce added six points to go with team-highs of 11 rebounds and two assists.
Alana Torres (3 steals) and Daisy Rice (7 rebounds, 3 steals) tossed in six apiece.
McDowell held a 29-24 lead on Boyce’s bucket off a Madi Smith assist with 6:15 to play. But Chrisco made two foul shots and nailed a 3 to tie the game. After a McDowell turnover, Riley Haas (7 points, 7 rebounds) scored on a put-back to give East a 31-29 lead, and they never trailed again.
The Lady Titans got as close as 37-33 on two free throws from Rice with 1:34 to play. East Burke, which shot 17-of-23 from the stripe, made 13 of its 18 foul shots in the fourth quarter to stymie any comeback attempts.
“I was proud of our effort,” said Kinninger. “We did a good job on the boards both offensively and defensively. We talked about how it would be important to meet their physicality and be tough and not back down, and I thought we really did that well.”
McDowell continues its brutal non-conference schedule next Tuesday when they visit a solid Mitchell club.
“I really think going through this gauntlet of non-conference games is going to help us at conference time,” said Kinninger, “We’re seeing some really good teams, and there is not one team in our conference that is slack.”
East Burke (45) Gracie Ruff 1-4 3-4 6, Ashlyn Stilwell 2-4 4-7 8, Sarah Grace Lockey 1-5 2-2 4, Riley Haas 2-5 3-4 7, Graleigh Hildebran 3-9 1-2 10, Aubrie Snyder 0-2 0-0 0, Maya Chrisco 2-5 4-4 10, Aubree Griggs 0-1 0-0 0, Allie Cooke 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 11-36 17-23 45.
McDowell (35) Daisy Rice 2-7 1-3 6, Makenna Parkins 3-12 3-6 9, Naliyah Boyce 2-6 2-2 6, Madi Smith 0-2 1-5 1, Alana Torres 2-3 0-0 6, Leila Bragg 1-6 3-6 5, Tayla Wood 0-2 2-2 2, Makiya Burgess 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 10-39 12-24 35.
East Burke 10 09 05 21 — 45
McDowell 08 10 09 08 — 35
Rebounds: EB (21) McDowell (39) Rebound leaders: EB (Haas 7) McDowell (Boyce 11, Parkins 9) 3-point goals: EB (6-17) McDowell (3-8) EB (Ruff 1-2, Stilwell 0-2, Lockey, Haas, Cooke 0-1, Hildebran 3-6, Chrisco 2-4) MHS (Torres 2-2, Rice 1-2, Parkins, Bragg 0-2) McDowell assist leaders: (Boyce 2) McDowell steals leaders: (Torres, Rice 3) Turnovers: EB (22) McDowell (26)