Cutting a 14-point, third-quarter deficit to just three, the fourth-quarter strategy against Bettendorf for the Moline girls' basketball team seemed simple.|
And maybe even foul a lot.
Bettendorf hit just 1 of 8 free throws through three quarters of the Dearrel Bates Mississippi River Shootout midpoint game. Unfortunately for the Maroons, the Bulldogs converted 14 of 20 in the fourth quarter for Iowa's first win of the day, a 52-43 decision.
"They stepped up and hit free throws when they needed to," Moline coach Steve Ford said of the Bulldogs, who evened their record at 5-5. "We had to do what we had to do. We had to try our luck and send them to the foul line, but they hit them when they had to."
With Ashley Lewis hitting a 3-pointer early in the fourth frame, Moline had pulled to within three at 38-35. It was still three at 40-37, and then four at 43-39. That's when Bettendorf's parade of free throws went on a binge. With all of the points from the line, the Bulldogs outscored Moline (7-15) by a 7-2 count to pull away down the stretch.
"What we have to take away from this is the positive of our second half," said Ford. "Now we have to start focusing on Galesburg," Moline's next opponent.
Bettendorf had a 26-23 rebounding advantage, with six of its seven players getting at least three boards, led by Erin Levsen with six.
Yet, Ford opted to keep his 6-foot-2 freshman center, Lexie Gerard, out after picking up two quick fouls.
"We played an aggressive man-to-man group on the floor in the second half," the coach said. "That's what dictated the lineup. And that lineup did a very nice job in the second half, led by Kristina (Bozickovic)."
Bozickovic was a defensive terror in the third quarter, with four steals that led to her nine points in the frame. She was Moline's top scorer with 13 points.
The Maroons' next highest scorer was Ashley Lewis with seven, all in the fourth quarter. Five Maroons had four points each.
Another big positive for the Maroons was the rebounding of Morgan Gerard with a dozen boards. "She really battled in there," Ford said. "Morgan's the type of person that, for the final stretch of games in her senior season, she's going to take it personal."
Bettendorf had three in double-figure scoring, led by Miranda Holle with 14.
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