FAIRBORN — Depth and defense won out over height in a Greater Western Ohio Conference crossover girls basketball game on Friday.
Outsized in the paint by a pair of 6-footers, the Beavercreek Lady Beavers turned up the defensive pressure on the perimeter in the second half of a tight game and escaped with a 46-40 win over Fairborn at Baker Memorial Fieldhouse.
After giving up 28 points in the first half, Beavercreek (9-2) clamped down and forced 17 second-half turnovers, and allowed just 12 points while holding Cleveland State recruit Kayla Patterson in check.
“Defensively we played much better the second half,” Beavercreek coach Ed Zink said. “I told the girls they had to put more pressure on the ball.”
Aubrey Zimmerman and Kayla Shields led a balanced Beavercreek attack with nine points each while Natalie Knight added seven points and six rebounds. Patterson led Fairborn (4-6) with 20 points and 16 rebounds. She had all but four of her points in the first half as Fairborn was unable to get the ball inside during the final 16 minutes. Patterson attempted just three second-half shots.
“It was very difficult tonight,” said the 5-foot-10 Knight, who was one of the Lady Beavers charged with guarding the 6-foot-2 Patterson. “We had a lot of help-side from the guards.”
Knight was also a big offensive spark in the decisive fourth quarter. She made a basket and three free throws while the Lady Beavers continued to struggle from the field. Her first two free throws gave the Beavers a 43-38 lead with 2:18 left and then she made one of two with 55 seconds left to make it a 2-possession game. After the Beavers grabbed a rebound it took Fairborn nearly 20 seconds to foul.
“We needed that game,” Knight said.
Early on it appeared Fairborn needed and wanted the game more.
Patterson scored all but two of Fairborn’s first-quarter points as the Skyhawks led 13-8. The quarter featured a 8-2 Fairborn spurt to start and a 5-0 spurt to finish sandwiched around a 6-0 run by Beavercreek.
The Lady Beavers took the lead midway through the second quarter on an inbound steal and layup by Zimmerman. From there the game became a foul fest and teams traded baskets and leads. The teams combined for four 3-pointers in the final 1:17 of the half, which ended on a Jordan Elliott trey to tie it at 28-all at the buzzer. Officials called 20 fouls in the first 16 minutes which ultimately hurt Fairborn.
Neither team wanted to score in the third quarter. The Lady Beavers missed their first 13 shots while Fairborn made one of four while turning the ball over eight times. Shields’ driving layup with 50 seconds left was Beavercreek’s only basket. Katie Profitt had Fairborn’s only basket in the third.
“We missed some layups, we missed some free throws,” Zink said. “We do that.”
The fouls hurt Fairborn, who only played seven players to Beavercreek’s 10.
“That put is in a pickle there,” said Fairborn coach Bridgett Williams. “We had three (fouls) on both our big posts. We couldn’t do what we were doing in the first half. I don’t want to take from our girls. In a very short window of having a new coach and having only six players that are playable, it’s been quite a challenge.”
Much like the second half.