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NEWPORTâ€“Fresh of their first win of the season, the UCA girls had a tough battle on Saturday afternoon when they played host to the Concord Wildcats at Newport Elementary, dropping the contest 61-33.
The first quarter was an evenly played eight minutes for the Crusaders, as they displayed a competitive brand of hoops in the early going.
Concords' Kasey DeGreenia got the game started with a lay-up, and UCA's Laura Libby answered right back with three pointer. They followed that with a pair of buckets from Hannah Piette to jump out to a 7-2 lead.
DeGreenia struck again, and Christina Maxwell matched it with a leaner to make it 9-4.
But DeGreenia, who ended the night as the game's high scorer with eighteen points, was not finished. She went on to add another six points, and along with two points from Tori Ballou, the Wildcats were now up 12-9 heading into the second quarter.
At the half it would be 24-15 Concord, but it could have been closer. The Crusaders went to the line ten times, and with a cleaner style of play, held the Wildcats off of the line completely. Unfortunately, UCA shot just forty percent, leaving six points on the floor.
The third quarter was the best eight minutes the team would play on the afternoon. With DeGreenia on the bench, the Crusaders responded, scoring thirteen points and holding Concord to eleven, the Wildcats lowest scoring quarter of the game.
"We tried our full court press, and it seemed to rattle them," said coach Sarah Roy, "It was only the second time we've pressed and I was hoping to create a little chaos for them and it did seem to work for a little bit."
Piette had five points in the third, Libby four, and Maxwell and Olivia Foster each had two. With eight minutes remaining it was 35-28, and the game was very much still in reach.
In the fourth it became out of reach. The Wildcats put twenty-six points on the board compared to just five for the Crusaders.
As the quarter wore on, it was becoming apparent that Concord had the game in hand, and could have backed off a little, but they were relentless.
The team went hard to the basket right up until the final buzzer, leaving some fans grumbling in the stands.
Piette had fine game for the Crusaders in the loss, leading the team with ten points, but more importantly she was an emotional rock for the Crusaders, earning praise from her coach.
"She was able to maintain a sense of calm out there. She was a little frustrated, as they all were, with the man-to-man pressure and she handled herself really well," said Roy.
It will be two days of practice, then back to competition on Wednesday kicking off the double-header against Masse Vanier at 4:00. The game will be held at the Municipal Building in Newport instead of at the elementary school.