As they have for much of the season, the New Canaan girls basketball team showed real flashes of brilliance last Monday night. But, they could not sustain their strong play over an entire game. In their final home contest of 2014, Senior Night, the Rams fell to a steady St. Joseph's squad, 49-25.
After coming out strong in the opening quarter, New Canaan's wheels came off in the second, as the Cadets, playing a strong inside game, outscored their hosts 13-1. From there on, the Rams were not able to bounce back.
With the win, St. Joseph's (10-7) has now won eight in a row and is on the cusp of qualifying for the FCIAC tournament. Meanwhile, New Canaan fell to 3-14.
"Tonight got away from us again," said New Canaan coach Kim Palmer. "We must have missed eight or nine layups and put backs, and that's a lot of points right there."
As in its previous game against Darien, New Canaan outscored its opponent in the opening period, this time by a 10-9 margin. Rams captain Ali Reilly started the scoring with a mid-range jumper that set a confident tone for her team. New Canaan then moved the ball well and drained shots from both inside and from the perimeter.
"I know New Canaan can shoot very well in this gym," said Cadets head coach Chris Lindwall. "So we tried to change a couple things defensively, so as not to give them as many open shots."
St. Joseph's ramped up its defense in the second quarter without sacrificing anything on the offensive end. Jackie Jozefick led a devastating 11-0 run by collecting six of her 10 points on the night in that frame alone.
"We sort of let the defense dictate what we do on offense," Reilly explained. "We may not take the opportunity to drive to the basket, and we just kind of lose confidence."
By halftime, the complexion of the game had changed dramatically. The Cadets had now doubled the Rams on the scoreboard, 22-11.
While New Canaan did manage to find its scoring rhythm again in the third quarter by knocking down 10 points, St. Joseph's more than stayed with them with 13 of its own.
Nine different Cadet players finished with a made basket, led by Bridget Sharnick who notched 12 to9tal points. Maite Gritsko and Jozefick each put up 10. On the opposite sideline, Reilly topped all Ram scorers with eight points, followed by Elizabeth Miller and Marina Braccio, who each had six.
Collectively, the Cadets went 8-11 at the free throw line, while the Rams were 3-6 from the stripe.
"I give a lot of credit to St. Joe's," Palmer said. They played some tough defense on us, and they never let down."
At the conclusion of her club's Senior Night, Palmer took time to reflect.
"I am proud of the way they came out to play this season, and I am proud of the seniors. We are going to miss their leadership and commitment to the program. I would have liked to have seen a few more W's, but the kids played well."
Reilly echoed her coach's sentiment.
"We've come a long way. In our first game against Trumbull we scored 10 points in the whole game, and every game since then we have gotten better. We are constantly fighting, and I am really proud of our team for that."
New Canaan (3-14, 3-16) 10 1-10 4 -- 25
Saint Joseph (10-7, 12-7) 9 13-13 14 -- 49
NC: Ali Reilly 2 0-6 0; Marina Braccio 3 1-2 0; Elizabeth Miller 2 0-2 2; Lindsey Seelert 3 0-0 0; Devin Selvala 0 0-0 2
SJ: Bridget Sharnick 5 3-4 0; Jackie Jozefick 2 6-0 2; Maite Gritsko 0 0-4 6; Caitlin Sharnick 0 3-4 0; Shannon O'Meara 2 0-1 0; Tess Lockwood 0 0-0 2; Emily Robertson 0 0-0 2; Tara Waiting 0 0-0 2; Ana DeCarmo 0 1-0 0
Three-pointers: SJ: B. Sharnick 2, C. Sharnick 1; NC: Reilly 2, Seelert 1, Braccio 1
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