SYLVANIA - Solid defense and clutch shooting down the stretch led Lourdes University to a 62-56 victory over Indiana-South Bend on Saturday in the 2012-2013 season opener for both schools at Tam-o-Shanter.
The Gray Wolves held the Titans to just 35.5% shooting from the floor, including just 25% from three-point range, and forced 25 turnovers in winning their first season opener in the program's second season.
"It feels good to get that first win out of the way," head coach Zareth Gray stated after the game. "We really played as a team. Our defense definitely won the game for us tonight."
Ty Ali (Chicago, Ill./Rich South H.S.) led the way for the Gray Wolves with 22 points, while Tarynn Hampton (Saint Louis, Mo./Alton H.S.) added 17 points.
Lourdes led by three, 29-26, at the half only to see the Titans battle back in the first three-and-a-half minutes of the second stanza to take a 34-33 lead. IUSB's advantage lasted just 90 seconds though, as Ali and Tiffani Blackman (Toledo, Ohio/Start H.S.) hit back-to-back jumpers to start an 8-0 run which put the Gray Wolves on top for good.
The Titans went more than nine minutes without a field goal, and after an Ali triple, the Gray Wolves had a 44-36 lead with 7:44 to play.
IUSB clawed back, tying the game at 48 with 3:25 to play on a lay-in by Strilich, only to see Ali answer with another bucket. Tiffany Scott (Ottawa Lake, Mich./Sylvania Southview H.S.) drained a three to put the Gray Wolves back up four, 53-49 before the Titans answered with a three at the 1:41 mark to close within one again.
The Titans had a chance to take the lead with 52 seconds to play, but missed a pair of free throws, and Hampton drove the length of the court for a lay-in and a foul to make it a 58-54 lead with 41 ticks remaining on the clock.
"That and one put the game away," Gray added. "They had to foul us after that."
Hampton and Ali combined to make the final five free throws of the game to seal the victory. The Gray Wolves were 19-of-23 (82.6%) from the charity stripe on the evening.
"Making free throws was huge," stated Gray. "I've told our team that if they want to get to the point where they win championships, they have to make free throws and layups. They took that to heart tonight. I'm not sure if we ever shot 82% from the line all of last year. We also did a good job of boxing out tonight, especially at the end."
Lourdes only trailed twice in the game, and just the one time in the second half. Back-to-back three-pointers in the first half by Rachel Flores (North Baltimore, Ohio/North Baltimore H.S.) and Ali midway through the first half opened up a 24-15 advantage for the Gray Wolves. The lead remained seven, 29-22, with 8:03 to play in the half before Lourdes went on a scoreless drought for the remainder of the half.
Indiana-South Bend managed just four points over the span though, including a jumper at the halftime buzzer, as Lourdes took the three-point advantage into the locker room.
Blackman led the Gray Wolves on the boards with eight caroms while Emily Orsini (Akron, Ohio/Archbishop Hoban H.S.) dished out five assists.
Strilich led Indiana-South Bend (0-1) with 22 points and six rebound while Ashley Carson added nine points.