HARVARD – Courtney Ludois can tolerate a lot of things – except when her Richmond-Burton girls basketball team gets outworked.
So when the Rockets’ effort was lacking early on in the midst of a night when shots just wouldn’t fall, Ludois let her players know about it.
The result was a second-half turnaround when R-B was able to play through woeful shooting and got 17 points from Abby Straight in a 48-40 Big Northern Conference East Division victory over Harvard on Tuesday night.
The finished product wasn’t polished by any means. But at least, Ludois said, her team learned that taking care of the little things can make all the difference.
It just took the game’s opening 16 minutes for that message to sink in.
“I think it was an eye-opener,” Straight said of the Rockets’ lackluster first half. “Everyone kind of had to refocus and get their head back in the game.
“But it was important to get through and play defense and do things you can control.”
The Rockets (15-9 overall, 8-4 BNC East) never trailed, but had to maintain their poise in playing through their shooting struggles. R-B led by only two points heading into the fourth quarter after Harvard was able to string together some offense behind Kaylee Bischke and Abby Linhart, who both scored 11 points for the Hornets.
Despite Harvard’s third-quarter push, R-B did just enough in chasing down loose balls and collecting offensive rebounds that extended possessions. Two consecutive Straight baskets to start the fourth quarter extended the Rockets’ lead back to 40-34 and gave R-B enough breathing room to hold on for the win.
Sara Swanson chipped in with eight points – including three late free throws – to help close out the R-B victory.
“I thought we had great energy in the second half,” Ludois said. “We could not make a shot to save our lives. But Abby had a couple of big shots and we finished it when we needed to.”
Harvard, on the other hand, couldn’t maintain the effort that it came out with to start the game.
The Hornets (4-16, 1-8) had plenty of chances to draw even with plenty of time remaining. But Harvard never got closer than two points after playing the entire night from behind. A Linhart 3-point field goal with 39 seconds left brought the Hornets to within 44-40, but they couldn’t get the stops they needed to erase the deficit.
“There were little spurts when we didn’t hustle on defense,” Harvard coach Ashley Arff said. “We let them go right by us. We have to play hard, nose-to-nose defense the whole game and that’s where it got away.”