Four CAL players reached double figures in a 66-52 wire to wire win over Mercy Thursday night. The Centurions improved to 20-7 on the year while the Jaguars slipped to 17-11.
“I thought we shared the ball well,” said CAL head coach Cameron Pridemore. “One big thing we were focusing on coming off a poor showing against E-town Tuesday…our energy was really low in that game. We didn’t get back in transition very well. For the most part, I thought we did that a lot better tonight. That was one of the big things we were looking for was our transition defense.
“Up to the fourth quarter, I thought we did a good job rebounding. Shelby (Calhoun) being in foul trouble hurts that a little bit, but that was another thing we didn’t do well Tuesday.”
CAL got off to a fast start while Mercy struggled in the opening minutes. The Jaguars hit just two shots from the floor in the first quarter and fell behind 17-7.
Fueled by 14-2 run, the Centurions’ lead grew to as much as 22 in the second quarter before Mercy closed the first half with seven straight points to trail 37-22 at the break.
“I don’t know what it was, the mental aspect of it or where we were tonight, but they definitely were the tougher team from the start tonight, and it showed,” said Jaguars head coach Keith Baisch.
Mercy put together a couple of runs in the second half, but the deficit never dipped below nine points. The Jaguars cut it to 57-48 with 4:36 to play before CAL scored the next seven points to put the game away.
“We knew they were going to make a run,” said Pridemore. “We told them coming into the fourth quarter that it was going to be do-or-die for them in that first three or four minutes, and we had to match it. They can shoot it. They have good players. They didn’t shoot it great in the first half, but I knew they would start falling eventually because they were getting good looks. We got a little panicky there for a minute, but we answered in a good way.”
Senior Shelby Calhoun led the Centurions with 18 points, 16 rebounds, and six assists. Fellow senior Mia Beam finished with 17 points, and Sydney Raque and Jaya McClure tallied 13 and 11 points, respectively. CAL closes the regular season Friday night at home against Collins.
Taziah Jenks finished with a team-high 13 points for Mercy. Paige Taylor also hit double figures with 11 points. For the Jaguars, the regular season is over. They now look ahead to next week’s 24th District tournament.
“We’re not where we want to be, but the good thing is we get an automatic bid to the regional the way our district is set up this year,” said Baisch. “So we have two weeks to get on the practice court and bust our butts to get where we need to be. We may have to make a few changes along the way, but if that’s what we have to do, we’re going to try to do whatever it takes to get this team back to Rupp Arena.”