DAVENPORT, Iowa — There were little moments that got away from the Muscatine girls basketball team Tuesday night.
Four straight third-quarter turnovers that led to six Assumption points. A 2-minute, 13-second possession in the fourth quarter that didn't yield a shot and ended with a turnover. A missed 3 in the final minute.
All of that added up to a 41-33 loss to the Knights at Assumption High School.
"I feel like we're right there and you could see tonight, just when we were on the cusp of getting over the hump, that's when we need to eliminate the turnover, we need to lock down a possession or lock down a stop," Muscatine head coach Susan Orvis said. "I always feel like we're one possession away from getting where we want to go."
Muscatine (4-9, 4-6 MAC) held a 12-11 lead after the first quarter and did a good job of keeping the Knights' top players off the scoreboard, holding Assumption's top two scorers to just four points.
But the Knights had other players step up.
Corey Whitlock scored 15 points, including all nine of her team's points in the second quarter to help the Knights take a 20-17 lead into halftime. Lauren Herrig and Katie Anderson each added eight points for Assumption (8-5, 7-3).
That trio was averaging 20.5 points on the season but accounted for 31 on Tuesday night.
"We spend a lot of time guarding and that's a philosophy of our program, we've got to keep point totals down," Orvis said. "I felt we were pretty solid defensively and we put ourselves in a position to win the ball game, keeping those point totals down but a few possessions did get away from us."
Orvis pointed to the turnovers on the offensive end — Muscatine had 19 giveaways — as the bigger issue, especially a stretch in the third quarter where Assumption scored six points off of four straight turnovers to turn a 25-21 game into a 31-21 deficit for the Muskies.
"It's easy to say slow down, settle down but we've got to be able to have it slow down for our kids," Orvis said. "Some of that is experience but some of that too is putting our personnel in places where they're comfortable. I think sometimes we react and go to the next thing and we need to be able to stay within our structure, stay within our framework."
Still, despite all that, the Muskies were right there in the end, trailing 39-33 in the final minute. Muscatine forced a turnover and had an open look at a 3 to cut the deficit to three points but the shot missed and Assumption grabbed the rebound to effectively seal the game.
Zoey Long scored nine points, all coming from behind the 3-point line for Muscatine, while Alicia Garcia led the Muskies with 12 points, not missing a field goal and going 6-of-7 from the free throw line, despite picking up three fouls.
"I think that's key for us and she knows that," Orvis said of Garcia. "When Alicia is aggressive and assertive, it makes a huge difference for us and she can carry in us a lot of ways. ... When we see that consistency and aggression for her, that means really good things for us."