Nazareth coach Lauren Best saw it as soon as her team walked into the gym at Molloy.
“We were out of it,” the coach said.
That still didn't make a difference, though. No. 1 Nazareth handled No. 2 Molloy, 56-44, Monday at Jack Curran Gymnasium in Queens. Best anticipated her team going through the motions after a tough victory against previously undefeated Manasquan (N.J.) at The Mecca Challenge in the Bronx Sunday.
HOW THE GAME WAS WON: Neither team shot well early but when Nazareth (14-1) started to find its range, Molloy continued its cold shooting.
The Stanners (15-7) struggled to find any offense outside of Carolyn Gallagher, who scored a game-high 28 points. Nazareth held Molloy to just five field goals across the second and third quarters and held a 38-26 lead headed to the final period.
Nazareth kept Molloy in the game at the free-throw line in the fourth. Molloy went 9-of-13 from the line in the final period. Bianca Cuevas scored 16 points, Sadie Edwards had 12 and Brianna Butler had 10.
TURNING POINT: Nazareth led 16-10 after Butler hit a 3-pointer from the top of the arc about a minute into the second quarter. Nazareth looked sluggish, Molloy couldn’t score and the game was getting sloppy before Best called timeout.
“I told them if this game is close we’re going to lose,” Best said.
Best and co-head coach Ron Kelley also implored their team to clamp down on defense. Nazareth started trapping the Molloy guards and pressing the ball and extended the lead to 32-19 with 6:53 left in the third.
“We played a tough game yesterday and I think that to come back and play again tonight was a little tough,” Edwards said. “We came out a little bit lethargic. But we want to be a good team that wins game when we didn’t play well and we didn’t play well at all, individually or as a team, so it just shows that we’re a good team.”
NO FORFEITS FOR FORD OR CK: Nazareth learned earlier in the day that hat Christ the King and Bishop Ford will not have to forfeit games that they were scheduled to play but canceled after the death of Nazareth coach Apache Paschall on Jan. 3. Nazareth wanted to play both games and requested forfeits.
“They didn’t follow the rules,” Best said. “The rules state one thing and they got away with one. They should have gotten the forfeit. We’re a competitive team so we’re going to play but that’s not what the rules state.”
WHITE OUT: Cuevas couldn’t find her jersey before the game so she borrowed Shanice Woodson’s jersey. Problem was, Cuevas wears No. 1 while Woodson, who was sick and did not play, wears No. 11. So Cuevas covered the second number one with white athletic tape to keep her number.
QUOTE OF THE GAME: “I can’t explain it. I think we came out scared. I think we play in games like this where instead of playing to win, we play not to lose.” - Molloy coach Scott Lagas on his team’s offensive struggles.
UP NEXT: Nazareth won’t play again until the games are scheduled against Bishop Ford and Christ the King, which will likely be next week. Molloy plays at Christ the King Friday at 6 p.m.