GENESEO -- The only thing that stood between the Geneseo girls and an upset of Ottawa was about three minutes of sub-par basketball.|
The Leafs controlled the game through the first half, but Ottawa went on a 19-7 run in the final minute of the 2nd quarter and entire third quarter to run away with a 56-48 win at Geneseo High School.
Geneseo's bigs, Darci Dietrich and Jamie DeFauw each played spectacularly, but the Ottawa defense locked down the Leaf guards, holding them to under 25-percent shooting for the game.
Dietrich may have played her best game of the season, finishing with game-highs of 13 points and 12 rebounds.
"She's a garbageman," Geneseo coach Scott Hardison joked after the game about Dietrich. "She does all the dirty work. She gets every loose ball and is starting to have touch around the basket."
DeFauw was stellar up and down the court as well, adding 12 points to go along with a pair of blocks and assists. Molly DeBrock assisted on a few of those baskets to DeFauw and ended with a game-high five dishes.
The starting five played nearly the entire game, but struggled to find the basket in the third, going just 3-for-10 in the quarter. That allowed Ottawa to pull away.
In the fourth, the Leafs frantically tried to rally, but could never get closer than four points as Ottawa made its last seven free-throw attempts to seal the game.
The loss officially takes the Leafs (10-11, 3-4 NIB-12W) out of contention for the Northern Illinois Big 12 West Conference title chase. For Hardison, however, that ship had already sailed.
"We already had that talk after the loss to Sterling," Hardison said of the conference hopes being dashed. "Our focus is preparing for regionals and being ready to play at that level with those teams."
Friday, Hardison likened Ottawa to Alleman, a likely foe for the Leafs in the post-season's first round.
"They're both talented, well-coached and have a big girl," Hardison said. "There's still another level we need to get to."
With this young bunch, though, staying around .500 has already been an achievement, and there are still three weeks to improve before the post-season test.
"We're happy but we're not satisfied," Hardison said. "I'm happy with the progress that we've but not with the outcome tonight and we have a whole locker room of girls feeling the same way."
For Ottawa (16-5, 6-1 NIB-12W), the win couldn't be bigger. It sets up next Thursday's showdown at Kingman Gym with the NIB-12W lead hanging in the balance against Sterling (7-0 NIB-12W).
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