MONMOUTH — The Monmouth Academy girls basketball team started fast out of the gate Thursday night. And then, to wrap things up, the Mustangs did it again.

Tia Day scored 17 points, Hannah Anderson added 13 and Monmouth rolled to its second victory over fellow Mountain Valley Conference and Class C South challenger Richmond, 57-37, at Monmouth Academy.

“This is a great win for us, because Richmond is a good team and they always give us good competition,” said Day, who helped the defending Class C champions improve to 13-1. “I think beating a team like Richmond helps our confidence. We do need to keep our heads and not get overconfident when we get to the tournament.”

The point differential made this game look similar to the team’s first matchup, a 48-33 Monmouth win on Jan. 5, but the Bobcats (10-5) looked poised to hang close after recovering from a slow start and a 13-point deficit to narrow the gap to 28-19 by halftime — a mark that would have been closer if not for three Day free throws with no time remaining on the clock.

Richmond had a chance, but the Mustangs stomped it out. Monmouth made its first four shots, with Abbey Allen (8 points, 6 rebounds) scoring on a move inside and Anderson hitting a jumper, scoring off a stolen inbound pass and then hitting again from mid-range to make it 36-19 with just over six minutes to go in the quarter.

“The key to the game … was the first three or four minutes of the third quarter, when we came out with some good defensive pressure and made a run on them with some easy baskets,” coach Scott Wing said. “They would make their little runs when we were going cold, that was kind of the case of the game. But we did have good runs ourselves, so that kind of opened the game up for us.”

The Mustangs’ surge to start the second half resembled the push with which they started the game. Monmouth kept Richmond to an 0-for-12 effort from the field, taking a 13-2 lead by the end of the first quarter and stretching the lead to 15-2 early in the second.

“We’ve been having problems with starting out fast lately,” Day said. “I think we started out the beginning of the game pretty good and the third quarter good, which is what we needed to do.”

Down quickly, the Bobcats didn’t panic. After missing their first 14 shots, they connected on five of their next six, a stretch that included a pair of 3-pointers from Ashley Abbott and another from Caitlin Kendrick to narrow the gap to 18-15 with 3:59 to go in the first half.

“I think, overall, our defense was very good, other than the second quarter (when) we had some major breakdowns,” Wing said. “I think we got that lead and sometimes, mentally, kids start to relax, and we kind of let them score a little bit more than they probably should have.”

Monmouth scored the next seven points before going on its third-quarter run, but the Bobcats still had fight left, drawing within 10 points at 46-36 on a Sydney Tilton (14 points, 11 rebounds) fadeaway with over four minutes to play in the fourth quarter.

Monmouth, however, had the answer again, with a Day 3-pointer capping a 7-0 run that made it 53-36 with 1:46 to go and iced the victory.

“The girls still battled to the end,” said Richmond coach Mike Ladner, whose team also got 7 points and 10 rebounds from Bryanne Lancaster. “Basically, they wore us down again. We’re just going to have to make some adjustments and try to slow it down.”

Monmouth’s pressure won out, but Ladner knew his team, which went 6-for-16 from the free-throw line, didn’t do itself any favors.

“We were horrible from the foul line tonight,” he said. “If we were to make our foul shots I feel like we would have been right there, we would have been in the game.”

Abby Ferland added seven points for Monmouth, while Destiny Clough had 11 rebounds and Kaeti Butterfield had eight.

“I was happy with the intensity that we had and I was very happy with the defensive rebounding we had,” Wing said. “Anytime you beat a team with 10 wins, it’s always a good win.”

Drew Bonifant — 621-5638

[email protected]

Twitter: @dbonifantMTM

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