DAVENPORT, Iowa – Muscatine coach Susan Orvis says there are a few things she knows about her young Muscatine girls basketball team: they’re going to play hard every night, stick together and fight until the end.

As long as the Muskies are able to do those things on a nightly basis, Orvis feels her team will be just fine, even while they continue to piece things together and figure out some of the details.

All three of those things proved true Tuesday at Davenport Assumption, but it was the little things that came back to bite Muscatine in a 59-56 loss to Assumption.

“I think you can see the pieces we have to put together and you can see the potential we have,” Orvis said. “We get that effort every day in practice, and that makes us excited because we know they’re going to continue to get better.”

Orvis said the Muskies had their best practice of the season Monday but was unsure if that would translate to Tuesday’s game. It did, and that was a big reason the Muskie coach could hardly wipe the smile off her face after the game, even if she was disappointed in the overall result.

“They’re just kind of growing up in front of our eyes,” Orvis said. “The effort is always there, and the attentiveness and attitude is good. But we’re able to run a more detailed practice plan and get into some game planning.”

The Muskies certainly grew up a bit Tuesday night, especially in the fourth quarter when a seven-point deficit quickly turned to 13 after back-to-back three-pointers by the Knights to give them a 53-40 lead. Assumption held that lead for the next few minutes and held a 57-44 lead over Muscatine with under five minutes remaining.

But the Muskies slowly chipped away.

It started with a three-pointer by junior Macey Rogers, who led all scorers with 19 points in the game. Then back-to-back buckets by Rogers and senior Tessa Kerr, who scored 17 points, cut the Knight’s lead to 59-51. The Muskies hounded the Knights on defense and forced four consecutive turnovers late in the game, and Kerr converted one of those into a three-pointer to cut the lead to 59-54 with just over two minutes remaining.

“You have to think a little bit out there, but at the same time be able to cut loose, compete and play,” Orvis said. “I think we saw them do that and still be able to execute what we were able to do. They didn’t just cut it loose and forget about our sets, out system and our structure. The game has slowed down for them, they can process while they’re competing.”

After forcing yet another turnover, Muscatine freshman Alicia Garcia converted a layup on an assist from Paige Miller to pull them within 59-56 with 50 seconds remaining. Garcia scored 14 points, including 10 in the third quarter to keep the Muskies afloat after a rough first half.

Assumption’s Carle Brown missed the front end of a one-and-one with seven seconds left, but Muscatine was unable to get a shot up before the buzzer and fell to 0-2 on the season.

That was just one example of a lack of execution, with many others coming earlier in the game. Whether it was miscommunications on defense, defensive rebounding or only making 11 of 20 free throws, Orvis knows Tuesday’s game was there for the taking if any of those things were executed a little better.

Even so, Orvis will take the effort and mental toughness her team showed on the road as encouraging signs and look to build on both of those things moving forward.

“It’s just some of those little things that we’ll learn as a team,” Orvis said. “A possession here and a missed box out there is enough to beat you. Those are just great lessons for us, it’s just too bad we had to learn them while coming up short tonight.”