PRINCETON, Ind. -- A game between rivals Princeton and Mount Carmel is always a highly entertaining, close game. That was certainly the case on Monday night in Princeton in the Lady Tigers' 54-44 victory over the Lady Aces.
Princeton (6-3) appeared to have an excellent gameplan for the Lady Aces (8-2), who entered the game 8-1. The Tigers were pressuring Mount Carmel early and often, speeding up Mount Carmel's guards, forcing turnovers and rushing their shot attempts.
Foul trouble affected both teams in this one, starting with Mount Carmel. Lady Ace senior Mollie Dardeen picked up her second foul with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter, forcing her out for a significant stretch of the remaining half.
The two teams traded a couple runs in the second quarter, leading to a 26-23 lead at the half in favor of the hosting Tigers after a heavily whistled first half which saw 16 combined team fouls and Princeton sophomore Hannah Sisk in foul trouble with three fouls.
It seemed as if Mount Carmel had finally gotten into a groove early in the second half. The Lady Aces quickly took the lead at 30-28, with their offense looking much more calm and Sisk picking up her fourth foul just a minute into the half. The ensuing stretch would be all Tigers despite their early troubles.
In a span of well over eight minutes in the third quarter and carrying into the fourth quarter, the Tigers posted a resounding 16-1 run to create separation between the two teams. With a 44-31 lead and Mount Carmel's noticeable shooting woes, the game was all but over.
"We hit the drought, missed some easy shots," Mount Carmel head coach Tim Willis said. "When they hit the run we missed five straight free throws, when that happens you lose contact with the other team, that's what got us in trouble."
Despite that Mount Carmel persisted late, forcing several Princeton turnovers, including a few five second inbounding violations, though it was all but too late.
"We certainly have no quit in us," coach Willis said. "We're going to play hard every night and even though we didn't shoot the ball particularly well, the girls continued to compete for 32 minutes and I think that's a hallmark of a good team."
"We're going to have to work on that," Princeton head coach Brittany Maners said. "They're [long] and they're quick, we haven't seen a team press us that type of way.
Dardeen and sophomore Maya Smith scored 12 each to lead the Lady Aces in a tough shooting night -- though much of their woes can be attributed to the tough Tigers defense, specifically their zone over the eight minute stretch.
The Tigers were led by freshman Cortney Dove who had an exceptional game, posting a career-high 16 points in the victory. Dove did a great job of posting up Lady Ace defenders, receiving the pass over the top for an easy layup in most cases, when Mount Carmel wasn't able to send the help defense in time.
"She is [getting better]," coach Maners said. "That experience is going a long way, early on in the game too her teammates did a great job of finding her in the post and finding the isolation and making some great passes into her as well."
These two rivals will be reunited shortly, as they're set to have a rematch in the Toyota Classic on Dec. 20 in Princeton. Coach Maners expects another tough game between the two teams.
"They're young, anytime you have a young team they can be dangerous." coach Maners spoke of the Lady Aces.
Mount Carmel's next game will come on Thursday at home against Edwards County at 6 p.m. Princeton is traveling to face Boonville on the road on Thursday prior to having a week off. Tipoff for the Tigers is set for 7:30 p.m., as they look to extend their four-game winning streak.