PITTSBORO — While some may debate the best things in life are free, when it comes to basketball, the ability to convert your freebies at the charity stripe often means the difference between …
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PITTSBORO — While some may debate the best things in life are free, when it comes to basketball, the ability to convert your freebies at the charity stripe often means the difference between winning and losing.
In a battle for supremacy atop the Big Eight 3A Conference, Northwood opened up a nine-point lead after one quarter and proceeded to sink 21-of-26 free throws – compared to eight-of-14 for Chapel Hill – while avenging its only league loss by caging the Lady Tigers 52-41 Friday night in Lewis Norwood Gymnasium.
Gaining a split in the season series besides capturing their sixth victory in a row, the Lady Chargers improved to 9-1 in the league standings and 15-6 for the year, while Chapel Hill slipped to 7-3 in the conference and 13-7 overall.
The Lady Tigers had won the previous meeting between the two long-time rivals 48-40 back on January 7.
Chandler Adams fired in a game-high 15 points for the winners, while TeKeyah Bland and Rae McClarty finished with 10 points apiece. Northwood shot 42 percent (15-of-36) from the floor and commanded a 31-24 advantage in rebounds to help offset 21 turnovers.
Laney Beale tallied 12 points and Cecilia Calhoun added 10 for Chapel Hill, which connected on 30 percent (16-of-54) of its field goal attempts while turning the ball over 16 times.
“I thought we brought good intensity on defense from the start and closed out hard on their shooters, doing a good job on their point guard (Beale) by staying between her and the goal,” remarked Lady Chargers’ coach Cameron Vernon.
“Not only did we handle their press and attack the basket well,” said Vernon, “but our foul shooting was phenomenal, as we made more free throws than Chapel Hill took. Chandler gave us a big lift on the court tonight with her senior leadership by scoring, rebounding and taking charges, and along with McKenna Snively was strong around the boards all night.”
Lady Tigers’ coach John French stated one of the big keys was Northwood’s ability to hold one of his best offensive players without a point.
“They did a good job keeping Morgan Korfas off the three-point line and never let her get into the flow of the game,” said French. “Free throws were a big difference tonight as we couldn’t keep Northwood off the foul line, while they were active on the boards and kept us from getting into our transition game.”
Behind Avery Look’s layup and Calhoun’s trey from the right wing, Chapel Hill jumped out to an early 5-0 advantage and was still ahead 7-4 midway through the initial period before Bland and Adams combined for eight points during a 12-0 quarter-ending run that thrust the Lady Chargers into a 16-7 lead.
Following Calhoun’s layup that drew the Lady Tigers within 19-13 with 3:45 left in the second stanza, Northwood outscored the visitors from Orange County 9-4 over the remainder of the frame to forge a 28-17 halftime advantage.
McClarty’s layup with 5:41 remaining in the third period boosted the Lady Chargers’ lead to 32-19 prior to Chapel Hill whittling the margin to 34-25 on a pair of Anna Newman charity tosses with 1:08 left in the quarter.
But after McClarty’s pull-up jumper from the left wing at the buzzer restored an 11-point advantage for Northwood, the Lady Chargers matched their biggest lead of 13 on three occasions in the fourth stanza, the last time at 46-33 following two McClarty free throws with 2:25 to play.
Five points from Calhoun then sparked an 8-2 Lady Tigers’ surge over the next two minutes that trimmed the gap to 48-41 on her put-back off the right baseline with 25.3 seconds to go before Northwood sealed its triumph with two foul shots each by McClarty and Gianna McManaman in the time remaining.