LYNCHBURG — Fayetteville senior Samantha Murphy scored 23 points, but her effort on offense was not enough for her Lady Rockets squad to overcome a large early deficit against Lynchburg. The Lady Rockets fell to the Lady Mustangs 67-40.
The Lady Mustangs got seven points from Peyton Scott and six from McKayla Binkley in the first quarter, pushing the team out to a 21-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Fayetteville had trouble throughout the first half with the Lady Mustangs’ press. The team turned the ball over numerous times in the front-court, leading to easy lay-ups for Lynchburg. When the Lady Rockets were able to get shots off, the squad couldn’t rebound the ball, resulting in one-and-done possessions that allowed Lynchburg to build their lead.
The second quarter was more of the same. Lynchburg scored 23 points in the quarter, with six Lady Mustangs players scoring at least two points. Fayetteville scored just seven points in the quarter, two of which came from Murphy, who finished the half with nine points.
Things changed for the Lady Rockets a bit early in the third. The team held Lynchburg without a basket for nearly two-and-a-half minutes, but the squad couldn’t capitalize on the scoring drought. Fayetteville couldn’t secure a rebound on the defensive end and couldn’t make shots on the offensive side of the court, which allowed the Lady Mustangs to extend their lead to 55-24 at the end of the quarter.
Fayetteville head coach Toby Sheets said he switched things up defensively in the third quarter, moving away from the zone defense that Lynchburg seemed to always be able to find the gaps in to more of a man-to-man defense.
“We went straight man-to-man,” Sheets said. “We’re coming into a good man-t0-man team. We’re finding that maybe we can use some man-to-man down the stretch and into the tournament.”
Murphy hit three three-point shots in the fourth and Taylor Cornett scored six, but the damage was done. Murphy’s 23 points led all scorers. Cecilia Murphy and Meghan Koch each finished with five points while Taylor Cornett added seven for the Lady Rockets. Scott led the Lady Mustangs with 21 points while Hannah and McKayla Binkley added 15 and 13, respectively.
Fayetteville head coach Toby Sheets said the team’s rebounding in the fourth quarter was what led to the team’s improved offense.
“I know we had several more offensive rebounds,” Sheets said. “It sure makes a difference when you can get a few offensive rebounds against a team that can score that much.”
Sheets also noted the Lady Mustang’s defense is tough, and teams that play that way can be fun for coaches.
“They have a nice press,” Sheets said. “They understand defense and they have a nice squad. I’ve had teams that good before, they’re fun to coach.”
With the win, Lynchburg improved to 17-1 on the season and 11-0 in Southern Hills Athletic Conference play. Fayetteville dropped to 11-7 overall and 6-4 in the SHAC. The Lady Rockets finish the regular season with a road match at Manchester on Monday, Feb. 1 and a home contest against the Ripley Lady Jays on Thursday, Feb. 4.
Reach Garth Shanklin at 937-378-6161 or follow him on Twitter at @GNDShanklin.