It’s been an all too familiar theme for Villa Walsh’s basketball team for a good portion of the season: it falls behind in the first half, only to play better, mount a comeback, and win the game in the end.
The Lady Vikings (14-5) did just that, but this time, they failed to sustain their momentum for the rest of the tilt, as Mendham (8-9) downed Villa Walsh, 39-32, Tuesday night at home.
“We have had some rough first half this year,” a disenchanted Lady Vikings head coach Van Johnson said. “But we’ve always been able to battle back and get back into the game. I think it’s nerves, and we have to try and figure how to correct it going forward.”
Villa Walsh trailed the Lady Minutemen, 12-4, after in the first period. But the Lady Vikings clawed its way back into the game, tying the score at 16 all at the break.
Back-to-back three-pointers from seniors Daniella Jambrina and Kate Gehringer pushed Villa Walsh to a 22-16 lead with 5:22 left in the third quarter.
Mendham knotted the game at 22-22 just 2:08 later. But senior guard Karin Brett gave the Lady Vikings a two-point advantage before the Lady Minutemen tied the contest, just to have Villa Walsh end the period in front by a point (25-24).
Unfourtnetly for the Lady Vikings, Mendham started to show the raucous crowd that it wanted the victory more. After the Lady Minutemen surpassed Villa Walsh early in the fourth quarter, they never relinquished the lead.
Brett knocked down two from the charity stripe to slice the deficit to 34-30 with 3:22 to go in the tilt. But Mendham sank its free throws down the stretch to seal the deal.
Brett paced the Lady Vikings with 13 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block while Jambrina chipped in with eight points, a block, and a steal.
Junior Lexi Naval scored a game-best 15 points and Leah Lattmann, another junior, contributed nine.
Villa Walsh travels to Morristown-Beard Thursday for a 7:00 p.m. affair, while the Lady Minutemen visit Morristown tomorrow at 7:00 p.m.