PLAYERS OF THE GAME
Jhazmine Lynch, MD: The 5-foot-6 guard had a game-high 18 points and five steals, but her greatest asset was driving to the basket. MD was unable to score from its halfcourt offense, so Lynch created movement with her penetration.
Danielle Thompson, MC: The 5-11 sophomore came off the bench for 10 points, seven rebounds and three steals. She scored all 10 in the first half to help MC to a 31-19 lead, but missed the only shot she took in the second half.
LIFE AT THE LINE
Free-throw disparity: It was a tale of two halves, as the teams combined to shoot just 10 free throws in the first half — and then 36 in the second half. Because of all the fouls called in the second half, MD was able to stick with its starters much of the second half.
One-sided game: As expected, MC's bench outplayed the MD reserves, with Thompson and freshman Valerie Moore combining for 15 points and 11 rebounds. MD's bench did not score and had one board.
MD's fourth: After entering the fourth quarter trailing 39-32, MD used a 22-12 run in the final eight minutes to rally for victory. Ebone Henry had seven points in the final 3:39, after picking up a fourth foul. MC was 10 of 11 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter but had just one field goal — an inside shot by Taryn Garza with 5:53 to go.
A SECOND CHANCE?
MC's underclass: The Crusaders have plenty of reason to expect a return trip to the state final next year. Of its 51 points, 42 were scored by players who return. MC is losing 5-9 Stefani Agostini and 5-11 Lauren Lucchesi, but look for Moore, a freshman, and Thompson, a sophomore, to fill their roles next season. MC will need to develop a new set of reserves, though.
One too many: MD coach David Monroe gave a nice assist to the three officials, noting their constant whistles in the second half gave his starting five time to rest. It's a familiar playoff problem, as the three referees on the floor each call their customary dozen or so fouls. They often call a dozen in the regular season, too, but in those games there are only two refs on the floor.
Poor decisions: While MD's aggressive defense produced plenty of turnovers, MC hurt itself with several poor passes that never had a chance of connecting. A combination of long throws downcourt and predictable entry passes had a role in MD's comeback. MC had 28 turnovers, its second-highest total this season. MC had 38 turnovers against St. Mary's of Stockton in January, but that team is also nationally ranked and played in Saturday's Division III final.
WHAT, ANOTHER WHISTLE?
Late call decides it: With the game tied at 51 and 27 seconds to play, an MD miss ricocheted to a group of four players on the left side of the basket. With as many as eight arms reaching up for the ball, a whistle blew and MC was called for a slap. That sent Ebone Henry to the line, where she hit the game-winning free throws. It was one of 25 fouls in the second half, after just 14 in the first.