PORTLAND – Alexa Coulombe and Rebecca Knight led a second-half rally Tuesday night as unbeaten McAuley pulled out a 45-42 victory against Cheverus in an early-season showdown between two of the top Western Class A girls’ basketball teams.

“I have no idea how we won that game,” McAuley Coach Amy Vachon said. “Give credit to Cheverus. They came out and literally took us out of our game.”

It took the Lions, who trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half at Keegan Gymnasium, nearly three quarters to solve Cheverus’ zone defense.

“I would say the first 21/2 quarters, we couldn’t do anything,” Vachon said. “They came out really pressuring us. It wasn’t really their press. It was more of their half-court, extended zone (defense) that really bothered us.”

McAuley did a better job getting the ball inside to Coulombe and Knight in the later stages of the third quarter and pulled into a 32-32 tie less than a minute into the fourth.

The score was tied or the lead changed hands 10 times in the fourth quarter.

With 29 seconds left, the University of Maine-bound Knight, who scored 10 of her 14 points in the second half, converted a steal into a three-point play to snap a 42-42 tie.

With 12 seconds left, freshman Allie Clement made 1 of 2 free throws to account for McAuley’s final margin of victory.

“I don’t think you can point to any one thing in particular,” Cheverus Coach Richie Ashley said. “The game got into an ebb and flow, and they started to make the plays. They made a couple more plays at the end, and we didn’t take care of the ball.”

Coulombe, a junior center who has verbally committed to Boston College, scored 10 of her game-high 16 points in the second half.

“One of our Achilles’ heels is that we like to rush our offense,” Vachon said. “We’re not patient, so at halftime we talked about getting (the ball) down low to Alexa and Becca. When we do that, we’re really a tough team.”

Morgan Cahill, a reserve forward, scored 10 of her team-high 14 points in the first half to help the Stags to a 21-10 lead.

McAuley (4-0) managed to make just 28 percent of its shots (7 of 25) in the first half.

“I think our girls hung with them,” Ashley said. “I think (McAuley knows) we can play with them, that’s for sure.”

It was the first loss for the Stags, who won their first three games.

Ashley said he wasn’t totally disappointed with the outcome.

“We’ve got eight sophomores, a freshman, two juniors and a senior, and I don’t think many of our girls have played in a game like that,” Ashley said. “They’ve got nothing to hang their heads about. We’ve got to clean some things up but I’m proud as heck of my girls.”

 

Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at:

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