MADISON — Madison girls basketball coach Al Veneziano liked what he saw from his team’s defense and liked how different players got involved in the scoring. Combined with Monmouth coach Scott Wing, that made two things the coaches were happy to see Wednesday night.
Monmouth, which came in unbeaten through five games, simply had one of those nights across the board. The Mustangs shot 17 percent from the floor and 41 percent from the foul line and Madison gradually pulled away for a 50-32 victory.
“Layups and free throws — that’s all I really have to say,” Wing said. “We were seven for 33 on layups — we keep that stat — and we were 13 for (32) from the free throw line. That’s the game.”
The game was rough on both sides in the first quarter, as the teams combined to shoot six of 34 from the floor and commit 13 turnovers. But even then, Madison (5-2) was asserting itself. Behind the rebounding of Bronte Elias and the scoring of Samantha Bruce, the Bulldogs led 11-2 at one point and 13-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Madison was trying out a new defense, steering away from its full-court press to concentrate on half-court and help-side defense. Both Veneziano and Bruce thought it worked well overall.
“We weren’t doing very good on defense, so we just decided to practice on helping each other on defense instead of sticking to your man,” Bruce said. “It makes us talk a lot more and it makes us work better together.”
Monmouth (5-1) played its best basketball in the second quarter, sparked by 5-foot-6 center Kylie Kemp. Athletic and always in motion, Kemp scored 10 of her 15 points in the second quarter. The Mustangs got as close as 23-20 and trailed 27-21 at the half.
“I thought we got away in the second quarter from help-side defense and I though we let them have some open looks,” Veneziano said. “We didn’t get rotated into the position we needed to be in to help people. We talked about it at halftime and they came out and executed very well with it.”
The Mustangs made only two field goals in the second half, but still trailed only 40-30 after three quarters. Madison controlled the fourth quarter, and the only bright spot for Monmouth was that 5-foot-4 guard Danielle Bumann pulled down 12 rebounds in the game. That was the story for the Mustangs, who hustled and were scrappy enough to win the rebounding battle despite a size disadvantage, but just couldn’t get their shots to fall.
Bruce scored 10 points in the second half and finished with a game-high 21 on 8-of-16 shooting. Elias had seven points and 11 rebounds, while Kirsten Wood and Cristie Vicneire each scored nine points.
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