St. Vincent girls let halftime lead slip away

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St. Vincent allowed a 10-point halftime lead to slip away, and the Lady Mustangs dropped a tight 44-42 decision to undefeated Marin Academy on Tuesday in San Rafael. It was the second consecutive two-point loss for the Mustangs, who dropped to 3-2 for the early season.

Fouls were again a big issue for the aggressive St. Vincent team as three starters wound up on the bench for much of the second half. Senior Sully Henry fouled out for the fourth time in five contests, and she played very little in the second half. A discrepancy between the two scorebooks resulted in the exit of Henry with more than 14 minutes remaining in the game after she scored six points in the first half.

The Mustangs shredded a half-court trapping defense by the host Marin squad and grabbed a 27-17 advantage at intermission. Basic two-player cutting and screening plays produced open looks with junior point guard Alexandria Saisi and Henry leading the way. Saisi scored seven points, including a shot from outside the 3-point arc.

Included in the margin was a long last-second toss from inside the half-court stripe by Sophia Licata.

Aggressive, but a reaching, defense got the Mustangs in immediate trouble in the second half, and Marin capitalized by outscoring the visitors, 15-2, from the charity stripe. St. Vincent clearly got the best of the Grizzlies from the perimeter with Alex Ditizio connecting on a pair of 3-pointers to help keep the Mustangs even.

St. Vincent could not stem the tide, however, as Marin Academy won it from the stripe down the stretch. Four Ditizio shots from distance went flat, and she missed a driving lay-in following an alert steal at mid court.

Marin made only one shot from the floor in the final period, but still had enough to hold off the suddenly cold Mustangs. Everything offensively came from volume shooting Navi Budhraja, who finished with a game-high 24 points. She was forced off target from long range by the Mustangs, however, as she went 0-for-11 from behind the arc. Twelve of her points came from the line.

Budhraja had earlier been named Player of the Week by the Marin Independent Journal for scoring 28, 24 and 36 points in her last three games prior to the St. Vincent game. She is the only senior on the team.

A 20-8 margin in the third period made the difference as Marin improved to 5-0 for the season. The Wildcats are a Division V team from the Bay Counties West League.

Saisi and Ditizio scored 10 points each for the Mustangs as they fell to 3-2 in the young season. Licata chipped in with seven points. Saisi, the early season leading scorer for St. Vincent, had to play with extreme caution in the late going because she was also saddled with four fouls.

There is not much time for St. Vincent to regroup as the Mustangs open play in the St. Helena Tournament against San Rafael at 5 p.m. today.

In the late-scheduled companion feature, the Marin Academy boys (4-1) ran away from St. Vincent, 66-28. The game had originally been scheduled for Wednesday. The Mustangs slid to 0-5 with the defeat.

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