BELMONT — While the final result was as expected between the top seed and the ninth seed, the Woburn High girls’ basketball team gave Belmont all it could handle through three quarters before a lack of shot making caught up to them.
The Lady Marauders allowed only 11 points over the last three quarters and they eventually pulled away to a 39-20 victory, in the MIAA Div. 1 North quarterfinals, last night at Coach Lyons Court in the Wenner Field House.
The Tanners were tenacious on defense and really took Belmont out of its game in the first half, and part of the way into the third. But they could not back up the defense with consistent point production, which cost them the game.
Maiya Bergdorf shrugged off a slow first half and scored six of her game-high 13 points in the third quarter to help Belmont finally open up a lead, while center Jess Giorgio had eight of her nine points in the second half.
“Our kids competed like crazy, I’m very proud of them,” said Woburn coach Steve Sullivan. “That Belmont team is big, talented and has size all over the place. We were there, we competed, we played with heart, but we just couldn’t score enough points.”
The Tanners, who were swept by wide margins in the two regular season games with the undefeated (in the Middlesex League) Lady Marauders, grabbed everyone’s attention by actually taking a lead into the second quarter.
Julia Taylor and Megan Roderick each had a pair of baskets for Woburn, and Roderick’s 3-pointer in the last minute put the Tanners up, 9-7. Roderick’s basket was a response to Bergdorf’s trey, which had put Belmont up, 7-6. Those were the only 3-point baskets of the game.
The Lady Marauders enjoyed a size advantage all over the court and they tried to work the ball inside for some easy baskets, only to be met time after time by aggressive Woburn defenders unwilling to give them an easy look at the basket. They forced bad shots and also came up with rebounds after the many misses.
Down the other end of the court, however, the Tanners were unable to take advantage of their hard work. Belmont scored the first seven points in the quarter, while Woburn did not score a point, including 0-for-4 at the charity stripe and eventually 3-for-15 for the game.
Just before halftime, Roderick came up with a steal at half court and went in and converted a layup to beat the buzzer and keep Woburn within striking range at the half, 15-11.
Taylor went 1-for-2 at the line to start the third quarter, getting the Tanners within three before the Lady Marauders went on a 7-0 run to take a 22-12 lead midway through the third. Freshman point guard Nina Minicozzi made a nice feed to Bergdorf for the first basket of the quarter, before going coast-to-coast herself to give Belmont the double-digit lead.
Ashlyn Pacheco made a couple of shots to help Woburn stay in it, but again the shooting woes at the free throw line hurt the Tanners again. After an 0 for 4 second quarter, the Tanners went 2 for 6 in the third.
“I thought a big difference tonight was at the free throw line,” said Sullivan. “I don’t know the exact stats but they hit free throws and we didn’t. That is where a lot of the game was won, but give Belmont credit, they did a great job, but we did not lose for lack of effort.”
Down, 28-17, heading into the fourth, Woburn made its last stand. Taylor scored her third basket and a Marina Rufo free throw made it an eight-point game, 28-20. But that would be as close as the Tanners would get.
Minicozzi made two free throws and a pretty, no-look, over-the-shoulder bank shot, and Giorgio added three points to give Belmont a 15-point lead with 2:23 to play.
“The girls have so much heart,” said Sullivan. “Marina Rufo played a tremendous game. Our other seniors, Courtney Cronin, Julia Taylor ... I can’t say enough about how much they did for us tonight, and all year long.”
The Tanners, who finished 14-8, lose their three captains and four other seniors. It will be interesting to see what the Woburn lineup looks like next year with Pacheco and Roderick leading the way.