CHESTERTOWN — The Shore ladies’ stock in the Centennial Conference has risen considerably following an early and, frankly, unexpected victory.
Washington defeated turnover-prone Muhlenberg, 50-46, Saturday afternoon in the first conference basketball game of the season.
It was a shocker, for sure.
In the preseason poll of Centennial coaches, Muhlenberg received two first-place votes and was picked to finish fifth.
Meantime, Washington, which hasn’t been on the plus side of .500 in seven seasons, was projected to finish ninth in the 11-school league.
So much for preseason predictions.
On Saturday, neither team shot better that 24% from the floor and only Washington sophomore guard Crystal Jones scored in double figures.
But the locals played solid defense and capitalized on the Mules’ mistakes.
Washington committed fewer turnovers, 10-25, and scored more points off of turnovers, 16-10.
The Shore ladies improved to 3-0 overall, matching the start of the 2012-13 season.
They rallied from a 13-2 deficit to lock into a 22-22 tie at halftime.
Jones buried a 3-pointer with 6 minutes, 30 seconds remaining before intermission to give Washington its first lead, 18-17.
A pair of Caitlyn Clark free throws with 22 seconds to go in the half leveled the score at 22.
Muhlenberg (1-1) led for the last time at 27-24 on an Emilie Benton layup 1:49 into the second half.
The locals closed the third quarter on a 12-2 run, including a string of eight points in a row, to surge ahead, 36-29.
Muhlenberg scored nine of the first 11 points of the final frame to tie at 38 with 6:19 remaining.
Rosie Martin’s layup 20 seconds later restored Washington’s lead for good.
Muhlenberg got as close as 47-46 with 29 seconds to play, but turned over the ball on its next possession.
Clark (nine points) sealed the win for Washington with three made free throws in a row over the final 16 seconds. She finished 7-of-10 from the stripe. Her line included six rebounds, two assists, three steals and no fouls, while playing all but four minutes of the 40-minute game.
Jones scored a career-high 13 points but played only 16 minutes due to foul trouble.
Other key contributors for Washington were Bridget McLaughlin and Emilee Cramer, each with seven points, and Taylor Samuels with eight rebounds.
Martin, a senior guard who gave the Shore ladies the lead for good, appeared in 12 games as a freshman at Muhlenberg before transferring to Washington. On Saturday, she scored four points on 2-of-3 shooting.
Washington’s women opened their week with a 76-51 win Nov. 13 at Notre Dame of Maryland. They raced to a 31-4 lead after the first quarter.
Clark scored a career high of 21 points in just 22 minutes. She was 7-of-9 from the floor, including 2-of-3 outside the 3-point arc, and 5-of-8 from the free-throw line.
Cassidy Quattro and Jones contributed 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Washington led wire to wire, building a 13-0 lead with 3:30 elapsed and closing the first quarter with another run of 13 unanswered points. Clark scored nine points and Quattro scored eight.
Notre Dame (1-2) was 1-of-13 from the floor in the opening quarter.
Washington took its largest lead at 38-8 on two free throws from Jones with 6:02 to play in the half.
Coach Alisha Mosley played everyone who dressed for the game.
Ten contributed to the scoring. Cramer came off the bench to score eight points.
Samuels led the team with nine rebounds.
Washington held a 50-40 advantage in rebounds and forced Notre Dame into committing 19 turnovers.
Washington is 7-2 in the series with Notre Dame.