Curstin Giffin leads Golden Eagles past Buckeyes
BELPRE — Potential game-tying field goal attempts in the waning seconds by Nelsonville-York’s Kalina Hernandez and Ashleigh Cantrell didn’t fall here early Saturday afternoon as host Belpre survived the Buckeyes, 46-44, to improve to 2-3.
Airah Lavy canned six trifectas for visiting Nelsonville-York and tallied a game-high 22 points, but head coach Chris Murray’s Golden Eagles received 19 counters from Curstin Giffin along with a 10-point, game-high 17-rebound double-double performance by Halee Williams.
Brooklyn Richards opened the scoring for N-Y, but Williams had consecutive field goals, Alyssa Hutchinson drained a 3 and Jaylynn Wright’s 8-foot set shot had Belpre ahead 9-2.
Despite two treys from Lavy and another from Hernandez, the hosts led 13-11 after one thanks to a pair of charity stripe makes by Giffin, who hit 7 of 7, as well as a Kaitlen Bush (12 points) lay-in.
Lavy’s trifecta with 8.1 ticks left in the first half gave N-Y a 20-18 intermission advantage.
Out of 32 first-half field goal attempts, the Buckeyes fired up 25 shots from downtown and made six. Overall, N-Y shot 26.3% (15 of 57) and connected on 9 of 36 from deep.
“I thought toward the end of the second quarter Nelsonville made a good adjustment in pressing us and Kaitlen, obviously, stepped out for a moment,” coach Murray said. “(At halftime) I just told them we have to be more active in our defense and then we started closing out on some shooters and taking things away.
“In the second half, at least, I thought our offense was better at getting to the rim. We didn’t finish well today (17 of 47, 36.2%). We had our looks to finish and we didn’t, but I thought we just kept playing hard and we got to a point where we really felt like we needed to go man and we were able to do that and add some pressure to them defensively.”
The Buckeyes led by eight points thrice in the third — at 26-18 after an Alivia Speelman free throw, at 28-20 following two Lavy foul shots and lastly at 30-22 thanks to a Cantrell deuce at the 1:59 mark.
However, Giffin’s three-point play cut it to 30-25. Two made free throws apiece by Bush and Giffin allowed the Golden Eagles to close within three, 32-29, entering the fourth.
A 3-pointer by Bush and a 16-foot pull-up jumper in transition by Giffin put Belpre ahead 34-32 just 37 seconds in. However, Cantrell scored and Lavy followed with another 3 to give the Buckeyes their final lead.
Belpre, which plays Monday at South Gallia, then went on a 10-0 spurt to forge a 44-37 cushion with 2:50 remaining. Giffin had six points while Bush and Williams also scored on lay-ins.
Down but not out, N-Y head coach Bobby Cassady’s squad closed to within two at 46-44 with 65 seconds to play after Speelman made a 7-footer and Lavy connected for her last 3 and also made 2 of 3 foul shots after being fouled on a trey attempt.
Lavy made the first two foul shots and missed the third, which was rebounded by Cantrell. The Buckeyes were whistled for a travel with 36.4 left and with 15.8 to go Bush missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Hernandez had the first chance outside the block, but her shot wouldn’t go. With just eight tenths of a second to go, Cayleigh Dupler inbounded the ball, but Cantrell’s shot not far from the block wouldn’t fall.
“What I was really proud of is Nelsonville is very young themselves and they lost (junior) Mackenzie Hurd,” added coach Murray. “She tore her ACL and she’s really good and has an offer from Xavier. She’s a tough little player, but I thought they still have a decent amount of talent.
“I thought for us, personally, we had some younger freshmen (Maddie Garber and Allie Jaraucaro) who had to step up. I was really proud of that. I was just really proud of the effort to come back in the second half and we didn’t get down on ourselves too long. It was good growth for us.”
Cantrell and Richards grabbed seven boards apiece for the Buckeyes, who dropped to 2-2 and play Monday at Athens.
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org