Ursuline girls cruise past United

Youngstown – The Ursuline Irish rode the momentum of the long range shooting of Megan Ross off the bench to cruise past the United Eagles 52-31 in Division III tournament action Saturday afternoon at home. The win propels the Irish to a semifinal game with the Springfield Tigers Thursday night at the Struthers Fieldhouse. The Eagles close the season with a 10-14 record.

With the Irish leading 10-4 late in the first quarter, Ross came off the bench to give the Irish a much needed boost. On three consecutive trips down the floor, Ross would hit three pointers to propel the Irish to a commanding 19-4 lead at the end of the stanza.

“It was looking like it was going to be nip and tuck and she came in. She can stroke it,” Irish head coach Sean Durkin said. “They (United) were obviously very focused on Tanaya (Beacham) inside. They had two, three people around her at all times, so something has to give. Megan was the one who stepped up and knocked shots down. We’re up by fifteen at that point in time, that changes the game.”

“They hit some very nice shots that we didn’t expect them to hit in that first quarter that dug us a hole a little bit,” Eagles coach Sam Mathias remarked. “We scouted them on tape and so forth and we had not seen them shoot from the outside that well. So for them to come in the first quarter and do that it was huge for them and kind of put the pressure on us.”

Ursuline would continue to pull away from United in the second quarter, outscoring the Eagles 14-6 and holding a 23-point 33-10 halftime advantage. The Irish would lead by a game-high 25-points late in the third quarter when they held a 42-17 led.

But the Eagles continued to battle the Irish and cut the deficit down to 16-points with 2:54 remaining in the contest when Lauren Beech hit a jumper. The Irish closed the game scoring the last five points of the contest.

“I believe we won the second half 21-19, the only thing we asked out of them at halftime was not to give up,” Mathias said. “If they would have stopped doing the things we have been working on, that could have easily been a 30 or 40 point game and they never did that. They have a tremendous amount of heart.”

“It’s been a process,” Durkin said. “We were a lot better in the tenth game of the year than we were at the begging. And I think this second half of the year we have consistently gotten better. We have had more people be able to contribute then we did earlier in the year, and I think we’re starting to play very good on the defensive end which we weren’t earlier in the year.”

The Eagles were led by Mackenzie Gatchel with 10 points and 6 rebounds, but no other Eagle player scored more than four points. However, the Eagles put nine players into the scoring column. The Irish were led by Tanaya Beacham with 15 points and 7 rebounds, while Ross added 11 points and Macey Gunther contributed 9 on the afternoon.

The win for the Irish may be an omen in the tournament as the winner between these two schools have won the last three District crowns. The Eagles beat the Irish 50-46 in 2012 on their way to the title, while the Irish topped the Eagles 52-43 in 2011. The Eagles also won 45-40 over the Irish in 2009 when they won the title. United also won the 2013 District crown, and the Irish won the title in 2010, but the two teams did not face each other in those years.

Lowell Spencer

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