By Josh Brown
TROY — After not shooting well from 3-point range in the first quarter, Tippecanoe made a slight adjustment.
It paid off, and it proved costly for the Troy Trojans.
Tippecanoe’s Allison Mader scored a game-high 18 points and hit four of the Red Devils’ seven 3-pointers on the afternoon as the Troy girls basketball team kicked off Troy’s 100 years of basketball celebration with a 54-36 loss to the Devils Saturday at Hobart Arena.
“Shooting 3s is like free throws, it can be contagious,” Tippecanoe coach Andy Holderman said. “In the first half, we settled for the first 3-point shot we got. If you’re moving the ball inside-out, that shot is okay. But if you do that without that movement, it compromises your offensive strategy.”
The Trojans (9-12), playing without injured leading scorer Bailey Hess, kept things close in the first quarter as Tippecanoe struggled to connect from behind the 3-point line. A layup by Kiyha Adkins in transition kept Troy within one at 7-6, but a jumper by Mikenna Varvel and a free throw by Aubrey Cox made it 10-6 Red Devils. A Maddy Taylor putback and drive by Alaura Holycross tied the score, but Sammie Rowland buried a 3 at the buzzer to make it 13-10 Tippecanoe after one.
“The girls played hard,” Troy coach Nathan Kopp said. “When you’re playing a good team, though, your margin of error isn’t that big. We had some bad decision-making.”
One stretch in the second quarter proved to be the decisive one.
After an Allison Mader 3 gave Tippecanoe its biggest lead to that point at 18-12, Troy called timeout with 5:51 left in the half. But a Rachel Rusk defensive rebound led to a Taylor Prall 3 on the other end, then Mader stole the in-bounds pass and hit Prall for an easy layup. Prall then stole the next in-bounds pass and hit a free throw to cap off a 9-0 run, and the Devils finished off a 13-1 stretch from the free throw line to go into halftime leading 28-16.
“We needed energy, and when you can get deflections, that brings the energy,” Holderman said. “We were able to get some deflections and easy baskets. And we got that inside-out motion in the second quarter, got some penetration and kick-outs for 3s instead of settling.”
“There was a 45-second span where they got a bucket, then we had a couple of unforced turnovers,” Kopp said. “That span really hurt us.”
Tippecanoe built a lead as big as 19 at 40-31 after Mader hit her third 3 of the game, but the Trojans cut the lead to 13 at 42-29 going into the fourth. Another Mader 3 kicked off the final quarter, and the closest the Trojans got from there was 12.
Mader finished with 18 points and five assists in the game for the Devils (17-5), Prall added 10 points and Mikenna Varvel and Sammie Rowland had seven points apiece. Aubrey Cox added six points and Rachel Rusk had four.
Holycross led the Trojans with 10 points and five rebounds, Adkins had eight points, three rebounds and three assists and Kayla Niswonger had five points. Jordan Short, Sierra Besecker and Bailey Dornbusch each had three points and Taylor Stookey chipped in two.
Troy travels to Springboro Wednesday, part of its final two games of the regular season. Tippecanoe, meanwhile, will face Greenon in the first round of the sectional tournament Feb. 13 at Tecumseh.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.