In a turnover-riddled game that saw both teams make more than their share of bad decisions, the McDowell Lady Titans made one extremely smart one: They got the ball to Dezi Williams.
Williams scored 13 of her game-high 20 points in the decisive second half, and tallied six rebounds, five steals, two assists and a blocked shot as the Lady Titans rallied to defeat the Watauga Pioneers 49-41 Tuesday at Titan Gym.
The senior guard helped spark McDowell’s comeback after the Lady Titans (2-1 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference, 7-5 overall) fell behind by as many as 11 points in the opening half. Her defensive presence at the top of the Lady Titans’ half-court zone trap disrupted the Pioneers (2-1, 6-5) and kept them from getting comfortable offensively.
The result was a 34-22 second half that saw McDowell build its own 11-point lead before settling for the eight-point final margin.
The Lady Titans also got nine points from post Naliyah Boyce. Makenna Parkins added six and Makaylah Chandler five, and each player pulled six boards.
For a while, it looked as if the Pioneers, who swept McDowell last season en route to a conference title, would continue their recent success against the Lady Titans.
A 12-0 run late in the first quarter and early in the second gave Watauga an 18-7 lead on Rebekah Farthing’s (14 points) bucket at the 6-minute mark. But Williams scored five straight and Parkins added a bucket as the Lady Titans got right back in the game, trailing 19-15 at halftime.
The third period was a dogfight, but McDowell finally broke on top for good when Alana Stephenson nailed a 3-pointer off a Candace Cooper assist to make it 31-29 with 30 seconds to go in the quarter.
Williams opened the fourth with a driving layup. Chandler then made a steal and hit Williams for another bucket. Another Watauga turnover led to a follow basket by Parkins, and McDowell led 37-29 with 6:15 to play.
Watauga never recovered, and the Lady Titans eventually capped the 15-3 run when Boyce’s put-back made it 43-32 with 2:33 to go.
Boyce and Cooper each buried a pair of free throws in the final 30 seconds to help seal the win.
Watauga turned the ball over 25 times while McDowell committed 24 miscues. Many of the errors on both sides were unforced. Neither team shot it well – the Lady Titans hit for 38 percent and the Pioneers 32. The exception was Williams, who went 9-of-14 from the floor, converting three of her steals into uncontested layups on the other end.
Farthing was the only Watauga player in double figures. She also led the Pioneers with seven rebounds.
McDowell faced a quick turnaround, hosting Mitchell in a non-conference game Wednesday. The Lady Titans are on the road at Alexander Central Friday.
Watauga (41) Brooke Byrd 4-10 0-0 9, Cailey Haas 1-6 2-2 4, Brelyn Sturgill 1-6 0-0 2, Rebekah Farthing 4-10 5-10 14, Chelsi Hodges 3-6 0-1 6, Molly Ward 2-4 2-2 6, Libby Warren 0-3 0-0 0, Taylor Lipford 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 15-47 9-15 41.
McDowell (49) Makaylah Chandler 2-9 0-1 5, Makenna Parkins 3-10 0-0 6, Naliyah Boyce 2-4 5-6 9, Zoe Miller 1-5 1-1 3, Dezi Williams 9-14 1-2 20, Candace Cooper 0-1 2-3 2, Silese Carson 0-3 0-0 0, Alana Stephenson 1-2 0-0 3, Daisy Rice 0-0 1-2 1. Totals: 18-48 10-15 49.
Watauga 13 06 10 12 – 41
McDowell 07 08 16 18 – 49
Rebounds: WHS (31) MHS (31) Rebound leaders: WHS (Farthing 7) McDowell (Williams, Chandler, Parkins 6) 3-point goals: WHS (2-16) MHS (3-11) WHS (Byrd, Farthing 1-4, Haas, Sturgill 0-2, Warren 0-3, Lipford 0-1) MHS (Williams, Chandler, Stephenson 1-2, Miller 0-2, Carson 0-3) McDowell assist leaders: (Williams, Chandler 2) McDowell steals leaders: (Williams 5, Miller 4) McDowell blocked shot leaders: (Williams, Parkins, Boyce 1) Turnovers: WHS (25) MHS (24) Fouled out: WHS (Sturgill 3:03—fourth)