Riders Go Cold In WBL-Opening Loss

St. Marys’ Carly Caywood attempts a jump shot over Defiance’s Carlee Smiddy (32) during a Western Buckeye League girls basketball game on Thursday.
Sports Editor

St. Marys’ shooting percentage from the floor was lower than the actual temperature outside.

The Roughriders struggled with their shooting all night — not finishing better than 30% from the floor at the end of any quarter — as Defiance used that to its advantage in the fourth quarter for a come-from-behind 41-34 win in Thursday’s Western Buckeye League opener. 

“Their press bothered us,” Roughriders coach Jon Burke said. “I give them a lot of credit, they were well-prepared. We weren’t getting out on space, we weren’t passing well and out shots didn’t drop.”

No Roughrider scored in double figures while the team shot 26.8% (11-of-41) from the floor for the game — 3-of-19 at one point in the second half during a 12-2 run by the Bulldogs. 

Defiance post Carlee Smiddy did most of the damage during the Bulldogs’ comeback win with 25 points — 10 in the fourth quarter alone and six in back-to-back-to-back possessions to give the Bulldogs the lead for good.

St. Marys led as late as 3:05 left in the fourth quarter until Smiddy’s bucket gave the Bulldogs’ their first lead since the 5:03 mark of the second quarter. The 5-foot-10 senior then scored on back-to-back pick and rolls that the Roughriders defense failed to pick up to push Defiance’s lead to 33-28 with 1:34 remaining in the game.

It was a rough way to begin the toughest part of the Roughriders’ schedule with six consecutive road games. The Riders will not have a home game until Jan. 7 against Spencerville.

“As a team, we need to be more supportive of each other and rally around this,” Burke said. “This is the toughest stretch of our season right here … they are all going to be physical teams who play fast and play hard and we’ve got to be better than that.

“If we’re not going to get up and down the floor, we are going to get beat by a lot of points and tonight that is kind of what happened.”

After scoring five points in the opening quarter — Carly Caywood was shut out until the opening seconds of the fourth quarter and adding to those struggles, St. Marys shot 2-of-10 from the floor as the Bulldogs’ chipped the seven-point deficit down to three entering the fourth.

Defiance led by as much as eight, 37-29, with 48.5 seconds remaining in the game, but Lauren Cisco pulled within five with a 3-pointer and after Tammy Aguilera missed the front end of a one-and-one, Caywood drained a pair of free throws to pull within 37-34 with 23.8 seconds left.

But the Bulldogs connected on their final two trips to the foul line — finishing 10-of-11 from the charity stripe — to put the game away.

To read the full story, see Friday's print edition of The Evening Leader.