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GRANVILLE — Sometimes the best offense is a good defense.
The Putnam County girls basketball team turned a pair of late steals into layups to halt any chance of a Marquette comeback in the final 2:30 and held on to post a 48-37 Tri-County Conference win over the Lady Crusaders Thursday at R.M. Germano Gymnasium in Granville.
Entering the fourth quarter with 31-22 lead, the Lady Panthers (10-2, 4-0 TCC) saw their advantage trimmed to six on a jumper from Marquette’s Kendall Kaufman with 2:45 left to play.
Sophomore Megan Rehn responded with a drive and bucket on the other end for PC, and that’s when its defense took over.
Putnam County junior Daniela Pavlovich swiped the ball in the Lady Crusaders’ backcourt and raced the length of the floor to sink a layup and put the PC advantage back up to 10.
Carly Gonet followed up with another short basket after a quick steal on the ensuing Marquette inbounds pass to put things out of reach at 44-32 with 2:05 remaining. The Lady Panthers, who led 25-14 at half, were able to keep pace with Marquette after intermission despite 19 second-half turnovers, fueled largely by a tenacious defensive effort of their own.
“We came out in the second half and they had extended their pressure already in the second half. We knew it was going to get more difficult and they weren’t going to make it easy,” PC coach James Barnett said. “This was the first game we really saw hard, hard pressure. It was sloppy at first, but I think we handled ourselves and kept our lead with what we did on the defensive end — getting to the screens and taking away the shots.
“We gave up too many second-chance shots there for a while, but ultimately, I think our defense kept us in the game and allowed us to make that run there at the end.” Pavlovich, who led all scorers with 19 points, spearheaded the dogged defensive PC push with six steals, four of which set up layups for the fleet-footed junior guard. “That’s one of the things that makes her an exciting player,” Barnett said. “She can turn her defense into offense.”
The Lady Panthers held Marquette (4-6, 2-2) without a field goal in the opening stanza as they forced seven Lady Cru turnovers and also limited them to eight points in the third quarter.
However, PC managed only six points itself in the third frame with 12 turnovers of its own during that span.
Carly Gonet joined Pavlovich in double digit-scoring with 11 points. Venessa Voss had a big game on the boards for PC with 13 caroms, while Rehn added three steals.
Kaufman led the way for Marquette with 14 points and added five rebounds. Marissa Gama had nine points, while Angela Evola grabbed a team-high eight boards.
“It’s just one of those things; we can’t dig ourselves a hole. We’re not made to come back like that. That’s just the way it is,” Marquette coach Todd Hopkins said. “Give them credit. They came out and played us well. They flat out beat us there, they’re a better ballclub.”
“We’ll get it figured out. Hopefully everybody will write us off. I’m sure they will, but we’ll be alright.”