Muscatine girls basketball coach Susan Orvis knew that Davenport Assumption would generate a run in the second half.
With the Muskies (5-8, 4-6) ahead by three at the midway point, the first objective was to start the third quarter with their own run, a 6-0 burst that appeared to put them on path to crashing the Knights’ six-game winning streak.
“We’ve been talking about putting 32 minutes together,” Orvis said. “At halftime I said we’re at 16, and we need a solid 16. We know they’re going to make a run in the second half.”
Just as Orvis predicted, Assumption pulled off its own run, one that ultimately left the Muskies too big of a hole to climb out of as they fell 43-36.
The two teams opened the game trading baskets back and forth before settling for a 9-9 tie heading into the second quarter.
Then, in what turned out to be a precursor to the second half, Muscatine and Assumption swapped scoring runs.
Tied 11-11 with just under five minutes remaining before the half, Tessa Kerr reeled off seven straight points in under a minute to put Muscatine ahead 18-11. Assumption’s Bailey Brown answered with a 7-0 run of her own in a minute and a half.
Macey Rogers, Alicia Garcia and Paige Miller each made baskets to start the second half, but the Knights again had the answer – this time a 15-0 run that spanned nearly seven minutes and sucked the life out of the Muscatine offense.
The Muskies wouldn’t score again until a pair of Rogers free throws with 5:21 remaining in the game that cut the Assumption lead to 35-31. Muscatine managed just seven points over the final 12 minutes.
Defensively, Orvis was pleased with the intensity of her team, which held the Knights scoreless for at least the first three minutes of both the second and third quarters.
“I was pleased with the progress defensively,” Orvis said. “Defensive transition and rebounding has been a big emphasis for us. I thought we kept the point total down.
“Where tonight that run got to us was a little bit of ball pressure, denying the wings and physicality in the paint. If we can get a little bit better in that area, I think we can have a few better possessions that get us over the top.”
Tessa Kerr led Muscatine with 11 points, 14 rebounds, two blocks and four steals. Alicia Garcia added 10 points, and Macey Rogers chipped in eight.
Bailey Brown had 18 points and Carlye Brown 11 to lead the Knights.
While the Muskies are two games under .500 in the Mississippi Athletic Conference, they’ve been close in all but one of them. Five of their losses in the league have been by seven or fewer points and they’ve all come against teams with winning records.
The schedule, though, doesn’t provide them any favors, at least not in the near future, as they will hit the road Friday to play Pleasant Valley, which defeated them 62-30 in early December.
“It’s going to be a tough matchup, but I look at these guys and I look at our game plan, the things that we work on in practice, we’re just starting to see them execute those things more and more," Orvis said. "… We still have a couple of gaps that are just a little too many to overcome.
“But I’m encouraged, we’re going to stay positive. We just have to be a little more cognizant of the details and just the toughness, and we’re learning that.”