Urbana suffers non-conference loss at home, but still has room to grow

URBANA - Going toe-to-toe in the first quarter with St. Teresa (7-7), the Urbana girls' basketball team used three treys - one each from Gabrielle Mboyo-Meta, Jasmine McCullough, and McKenzie Sprague - for a competitive frame and 16-14 lead.

Unfortunately, plagued by too many turnovers and missed shots, the Tigers (2-9) dug a hole too deep to recover in the second quarter on their way to a 60-44 non-conference loss on Saturday. Destiny Baker's field goal and free throw along with another free throw from Mboyo-Meta were overshadowed by St. T's 18 points run before the half.

Savannah Blanden
Urbana's Savannah Blanden wrestles the ball away St. Teresa's Zakyrie Mayes during second half action on Saturday. After a strong first quarter, the Tigers' could not make up a second-quarter deficit to snag another victory at Oscar Adams Gymnasium. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks

"As a team, we got off to a great start in the 1st quarter. In the second quarter we just got into too much of a hurry and couldn’t finish our shots," said Urbana head coach Bobby Boykin reflecting on the miscues. "We also missed a few closeouts on (Lucy) Corley from St. Teresa. She is a great scorer for them and we just lost track of her a few too many times."

Corley led St. Teresa's offensive effort with 19 points. Two other Bulldogs also finished in double figures. Grace Lees knocked down 15 points, and senior Jaida Taylor contributed another 11.

   "For the 2nd half, we tried to change things up defensively and St Teresa had answers for it. St Teresa just did a great job executing their game plan," said Boykin, praising the Bulldogs.

Urbana's Mia Schroeder

Urbana's Mia Schroeder is fouled while going up for a shot by St. Teresa's Grace Lees in the second half. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks
St. Teresa used the third quarter to extend their 12-point advantage at the half to 20 by the time the game clock showed less than two minutes to play before the final quarter. Meanwhile, Mboyo-Meta, who finished with a team-high 13 points, converted four of her five free throw attempts and collected another bucket for seven points. McCullough, who closed out the contests with 10 points, hit a three-pointer, and Savannah Bladen made the second of two shots she earned from the line.

Invigorated by McCullough's trey, the Tigers' played an aggressive fourth quarter offensively and defensively, outscoring the visiting team 14-10. The outcome might have been significantly different if Boykin's squad could play with the same intensity and tenaciousness displayed in the final eight minutes on Saturday.

"Playing four quarters has been a struggle for us this season. We just need to be ready to play for 32 minutes," Boykin said. "We have room to continue to grow and we still have some great opportunities to get better." 

An Urbana fan holds up a sign while spectators cheer after Tigers' Gabrielle Mboyo-Meta scores on hard-charging shot to the rim for two of her 13 points at Saturday's home game. Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks