CUMBERLAND - With only eight points through the first nine minutes of play, George Coderre knew that his Clippers were going to need to find a way to hit their offensive stride before it was too late.
Facing a Coventry squad on Monday night that entered play riding a five-game winning streak, Cumberland quickly found themselves in an 11-point hole midway through the opening half and on the verge of getting run out of their own building. That was, until they started hitting their shots and limiting turnovers on offense.
A 15-6 run by the home team to close out the opening half gave way to a strong showing in the second half that proved to be just enough as Cumberland held on for a 56-53 win leaving both teams with a 7-3 record in league play as they walked out of the gym.
“Both teams were pretty evenly matched I think. When we didn’t turn (the ball) over, we did some nice things, so it was definitely a good win,” Coderre said, his Clippers now riding a five-game spurt of their own.
Madison Zancan led the way with a game-high 25 points for the home team, 15 of which came after halftime. Abby Larose had 8 points, Lily Lachance, 7 and Morgan Vinacco, 6, including a pair of fast-break buckets off of steals to help ignite the second half rally and keep Cumberland’s winning streak alive.
Still, the 47-37 lead that the Clippers built for themselves at one stage was barely enough in the end, as Coventry, led by Madison Dessert’s 15-point outing, played hard the whole way through.
“Donna’s team was resilient. They didn’t quit, they worked hard,” Coderre said of the opposition.
Beaudoin agreed, but felt that certain fundamentals were lacking on her team’s behalf, which Cumberland managed to cash in on.
“We didn’t box out that well. Some of those girls are much bigger than our girls and we had a little bit of trouble with that,” she said.
“Some shots didn’t fall, they made some good shots, we lacked a little bit on defense,” she went on to say, summing up the primary reasons for the defeat.
Lauren Jennings and Anayah Melgar joined Dessert in also reaching double-figures on the night in the losing effort, scoring 11 and 10 points each, as Coventry was able to cut their deficit down to just a single point at 51-50 inside of two minutes remaining.
That did not sit well with Coderre who felt that his own team’s mistakes made the game closer than it should have been.
“The frustrating thing for me is that we had a chance to put it away and we had a couple of turnovers that were unforced when we had a 10-point lead and they came right back,” he said. (Coventry) hit a couple of threes and made it a game.”
Three consecutive offensive rebounds combined with a couple of key late buckets by the Clippers enabled them to take ample time off the clock while building on their lead in the final stages of play.
Jennings sank a three with 9.2 seconds remaining for Coventry to make it 56-53 before a Cumberland turnover gave the visitors one last crack at a game-tying shot, but Mikayla Gaulin’s heave fell short, as she ended the night with 5 points in the loss.
“I would have liked to have rebounded better, but they kept after it,” Coderre said of Coventry’s tough play underneath the basket. “They were winning every loose ball there late in the second half and it gave them a lot of good opportunities.”
Fortunately for Cumberland, it was not quite enough in the end as they managed to secure a critical league victory against a team right next to them in the standings.
For the Oakers, an opportunity to begin a new winning streak awaits them on Wednesday night at home against Narragansett.
“Just have to come back tomorrow, practice hard and then hopefully get Wednesday and Friday’s games,” Beaudoin said of her team’s matchup with the Mariners and then North Providence.
Follow Nick Cantor on Twitter @cantornick