PRINCETON, Ind. — Lady Aces basketball coach Tim Willis thought his team was in “pretty good shape at halftime” tied as the game was, 28-28.
Though Princeton had controlled the tempo of the game to that point, and despite poor field goal shooting from Mt. Carmel, Willis sensed the turnaround to come.
He got his wish.
The Lady Aces, playing before 1,800 fans at the new Tiger Arena, did bounce back in the second half. The Aces shot the ball better, while foul-plagued Princeton ran out of ways to stop them. Mount Carmel eased away to a 61-48 Big 8 Conference victory, and remained undefeated in the process, at 8-0 on the season.
“It was a battle. That’s what the Big 8 Conference is like on the road,” said Willis.
Princeton (4-4, 0-2 in Big 8 Conference) held the early advantage, leading by as many as six points in the second quarter over a cold shooting Aces team, 21-15. As the half wore on though, the Tigers began to pile up personal fouls that would eventually become their undoing.
Mt. Carmel (8-0, 2-0), only 2-of-13 from 3-point range in the first half, still managed to grab a quick lead before Princeton freshman phenom Jackie Young scored at the halftime horn to leave the game tied at intermission, 28-28.
Aces leader Tyra Buss, who endured some good-natured needling from the Tiger faithful in attendance, had only nine points at halftime, and just one field goal. That, too, was about to change.
In the second half, as the Tigers were being crippled by their ongoing foul difficulty, the Lady Aces began to find the range from the floor. A turn-around basket from the lane by Alex Rosignol sent the message, the first salvo in an 11-2 run to open the third quarter. Just like that, the Aces had a 39-30 lead, their biggest of the night.
Though Princeton did counter with a seven-point run to cut the deficit to 39-37, the die had been cast. Buss was starting to heat up, and the Tigers wound up with five players with four fouls apiece. Mt. Carmel went on another 12-2 run to put the game away.
Buss scored 26 points in the second half, including the game’s final 17 points.
Mt. Carmel did encounter some foul trouble of its own. Rosignol was forced to the bench twice, with lingering foul trouble. Willis, though, got the help he needed from Marissa Hicks and Jessica Gill. “I thought they came in and helped us big time tonight,” he said.
Willis said several of his players “gave us good quality minutes coming in. Tyra is going to score a majority of our points, but everybody else steps up and does what they need to do.”
Alyssa Lang finished with nine points. Maddie Dardeen added six, Rosignol five, and Reagan Keepes four.
Freshman phenom Jackie Young scored 19 points to lead the Tigers, who have now lost three games in a row after a 4-1 start. Dakota Morris went inside for most of her 14 points, while Hannah Brewer, another promising freshman, added 11.
The two teams could meet again in the championship game of the Toyota Teamwork Classic in 18 days, as they did last year, when Princeton avenged a loss in the earlier league matchup.
In the junior varsity game, Princeton rallied to defeat Mt. Carmel, 37-32. After allowing the Tigers just one point in the second period, the JV Aces carried a 21-9 lead into the locker at halftime. Princeton reversed course in the third quarter, outscoring the Aces, 17-3, to grab a 26-24 lead heading into the fourth period.
Brandi Metcalf led the Lady Aces with 16 points, including four field goals from beyond the arc.