EDMOND — Edmond Memorial and Norman High both came to play defense on Tuesday night. And the Tigers and the Bulldogs were both excellent in that regard.
Unfortunately for NHS, the offense didn’t match the defensive effort, and several long draughts characterized a 38-32 loss to Edmond Memorial.
It was a defensive struggle from the start, with both teams going scoreless for nearly five minutes. The game’s first points came when Taylor Ely hit a three with 3:10 left in the first quarter to put NHS up 3-0. With Memorial not scoring until seven minutes into the game, it was a lead the Tigers would hold onto for the rest of the quarter and most of the first half.
But Memorial came out firing in a second quarter that ultimately decided the game. The Bulldogs used a 10-0 run in the frame and held the Tigers scoreless for more than four minutes to grind out a 14-7 advantage in the period.
That kept NHS playing from behind the rest of the game, and though the Tigers were able to cut it to a single possession several times, they couldn’t close the gap.
“I told the girls we couldn’t play any better defensively,” coach Nichole Copeland said of her team after NHS forced Edmond Memorial into 14 turnovers. “But it doesn’t matter how well you play defensively if you can’t put the ball in the bucket.”
NHS shot just 4-for-29 inside 15 feet, with the misses coming on both guarded and unguarded shots. Ely was the lone bright spot offensively for the Tigers, pouring in 16 points and adding 11 rebounds. But the rest of the Tigers couldn’t get find any rhythm on the offensive end, including Bethany Cox who finished with just five points, the last three of which came on a meaningless three at the buzzer. Cox was hounded the entire game by Memorial’s Jenny Roy, who finished with 12 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks while dominating the paint.
“I don’t know what else we can do offensively,” Copeland said. “We had the shots, but we couldn’t make them pay for their mistakes. When we turned it over they were able to get to the basket and make us pay. But for whatever reason we haven’t been able to make other teams pay when they make a mistake.”
While an ugly game offensively, the Tigers turned in what may have been their best defensive performance of the year. They forced Edmond Memorial into long possessions that often ended in frustration shots. But NHS had trouble securing defensive rebounds, offsetting their own success on the offensive boards. But while Memorial outrebounded NHS just 30-29, the Bulldogs were able to turn their share of the offensive rebounds into easy putbacks.
Next up for NHS is a rematch at home on Friday against Del City, Class 5A’s 11th-ranked team. The Tigers beat the Eagles 55-48 in the first meeting.