GARDNER — Lady Panthers' senior guard Chelsea Schultz was on her game Monday night. Facing unbeaten St. Anne in River Valley Conference play, it looked for a while like hosting Gardner-South Wilmington was going to be able to hang with the Cardinals.
In the end, however, St. Anne was just not to be denied in a 53-42 decision over the locals.
Schultz scored 28 of her team's 42 points, including making 15-of-21 free throws, but that was about the extent of the Panthers scoring attack.
"Chelsea scores 28 points but no one else scores more than four," GSW coach Adam Leigh said. "When we're having trouble scoring like that, it makes it tough."
St. Anne (15-5, 8-0) didn't look like the RVC's front running team at the onset. In fact, GSW led at one point 17-13 in the second quarter when the locals went on a 9-0 run.
"We had good momentum going there," Schultz said. "When we get kicking like that, we really get a flow. We were getting some turnovers there. We stepped up our game."
It was a new wrinkle that GSW implemented just for St. Anne that caused the Cardinals some early havoc.
"We put on a half-court press. A 1-2-2. We just went to it last week and it seems to be working for us," Leigh said. "We went on the 9-0 run because of it, but we couldn't handle it that long. After a while, we had trouble covering the middle."
Once the Cardinals figured out how to break the press, senior center Sarah Mowrey took over. In fact, she scored nine of her 27 points in the second quarter and the visitors took a 29-19 lead to the locker room at intermission because of it.
"Offensively we were scatterbrained early on and we were not getting to our spots," St. Anne coach Kurt VanHorn said. "They were getting turnovers because we were making mistakes. Then we slowed things down and took advantage of our size inside. Once we slowed it down, we started pounding it down."
Mowrey at many times was the only 6-foot player in the game, which made covering her difficult for a predominantly smallish GSW team.
"We work up tempo and try to push the ball up the floor because we don't have a lot of height," Schultz said.
St. Anne began to pull away in the third quarter, largely because the Panthers were held to just three field goals in the second half. A 21-3 run by the Cardinals seemed to seal the deal, though GSW stayed in the game by making the most of its trips to the free throw line.
"That's what happened to us in the last game. It was tight at half and then we lost it," Schultz said. "It seems we couldn't get the open shots. If we had kept it a closer game, we'd have had a shot of winning."
GSW is now 7-12 on the season and 4-4 in the RVC.