Casa Grande put the hammer down in the second half to run past the Maria Carrillo Lady Pumas, 40-30, in the North Bay League opener in Santa Rosa on Tuesday night.

The Lady Gauchos struggled to grab a 21-19 lead in the first half as they gave up four shots from outside the arc by Carrillo in the early going.

A couple of driving shots by Kayla Ryan and a shot from distance at the top of the key by sparkplug guard Meagan Burke helped turn the game around for Casa.

It's been a season of strong defense for coach Dan Sack's club and this game was no different. Burke knocked three Puma passes into the backcourt and two of the turnovers were converted into baskets by the pressing Lady Gauchos. Maria Carrillo scored only 11 points in the second half with three coming in the final stanza. Almost every shot attempt was forced and off balance.

After being limited to only three points in the first two quarters, senior forward Brooke Santander finally found the range after intermission, and finished with 11 points as Casa gradually pulled away from the frustrated Pumas. At one point, Santander connected on three consecutive shots including a 3-pointer.

Burke and Joy Jovick added seven points each for the Lady Gauchos, who won their second consecutive game to improve to 7-4 for the season.

The stingy Casa defense took away the outside shooting of Maria Carrillo in the second half, with only center Vai Thompson able to provide enough offense to keep the hosts close most of the way. Thompson worked her way underneath to finish with 11 points for the Pumas, despite the hounding of Angela Llaverias.

Santander continued to lead the Casa Grande scoring with 14 points, despite limited attempts in the first half.

On Friday Casa traveled to Walnut Creek and defeated a good Northgate club 35-30. Madison Casten, averaging 12.8 points per game for the Lady Broncos (12-3) was held scoreless by the defensive minded Gauchos.

Sack, who has been pleased with the defensive efforts of his club this season, said "we didn't let them get into any of their deliberate offensive sets with our pressure defense. The girls were able to deny almost everything that they wanted to do that night."