A Tale of Two Halves
MOUNT UNION – It didn’t look like the Mount Union girls basketball team was playing the same team in the second half Thursday night.
Juniata Valley did everything in the second half it couldn’t do in the first en route to a 43-40 win over Mount Union.
The first difference in the second half for Juniata Valley was the ability to score.
After 12 first-half points, the Hornets scored 31 in the second half, including 17 in the third quarter that saw them cut the 10-point halftime deficit in half
“I think the second half we just broke down defensively,” Mount Union coach Jenny Cunningham said. “I don’t know if it was fatigue, if it was pressure. I honestly think the pressure was the same the whole game. We were prepared for that, we watched game film. They play great defense. I’m not really sure what went wrong.”
The second major difference was how the Hornets swarmed Mount Union ball-handlers and made seven steals, many of which were converted into points.
The third, and possibly biggest game changer for Juniata Valley was its ability to limit Mount Union center Tynita White.
White had her way with Juniata Valley in the first half, scoring 11 points and ripping down five rebounds. She got the ball and immediately made an aggressive move toward the basket, either scoring or getting to the foul line, where she was 3-for-4 in the half.
In the second half, however, White’s touches were very scarce and she was held scoreless.
Offensively, Juniata Valley got a huge lift from left-handed forward Haley Myers who did everything for the Hornets, including an assist on what turned out to be the game-winning 3-pointer.
She caught the ball on the right-hand wing, jabbed and dribbled to the left before finding an open Taylor Young, who swished home the three, her only basket of the game, putting Juniata Valley up 41-38 with 3:51 to play in the final quarter.
“Haley’s a great player,” Cunningham said. “Her left hand is definitely awesome too. She’s a good shooter, she’s a great driver. She’s the kind of player that everyone wants on their team. She’s definitely a problem.”
Faith Leri made two free throws with 26 seconds left for Juniata Valley to make it 43-38 to ice the game.
The biggest stretch of the game came in the critical third quarter.
Juniata Valley made an 8-0 run over a one minute, 45 second period to reduce Mount Union’s 30-19 lead to 30-27.
Leri made two jump shots and Myers made another jumper to end the run and get the Hornets right back in it.
“Their shots were definitely falling in the second half,” Cunningham said. “They were not shooting well in the first half. In the second half, our defense was a lot more lackadaisical. We weren’t as quick on our feet. We were hopping around and trying to block shots. That’s not what we do.”
Aaliyah Gilbert-Walker, who scored a team-high 16 points and grabbed a team-high 15 rebounds, made a basket with 10 seconds left in the quarter to stretch the lead back to five going into the fourth.
Mount Union won the JV game, 26-25.
Mount Union (4-5) will be back in action on Monday when the Trojans travel to Williamsburg.