LOMBARD – Nazareth’s Danielle Scully didn’t have the easiest assignment on Tuesday.
The 6-foot-1 sophomore was tasked with trying to score points against Burlington Central senior center Taylor Charles, a 6-foot-2 Princeton commit.
With Charles dominating in the lane, Scully was forced to shoot mostly from the perimeter and the results were not good at first as she started 1-for-9.
But Scully kept firing and eventually found the mark, sinking two key shots down the stretch as the Roadrunners pulled out a 32-28 victory on the second day of the truncated Montini Christmas Tournament.
Caroline Workman’s 3-pointer gave Nazareth (11-1) a 26-24 lead at the 5:29 mark of the fourth quarter. Two possessions later, Workman made a steal and passed ahead to Amelia Dray, who found Scully for a 3-pointer.
Two minutes later, Scully scored in transition off a feed from Gracie Christensen to extend the lead to 31-24 with 1:54 remaining.
“That was huge,” Nazareth coach Eddie Stritzel said. “Taylor Charles did such a good job.
“They kind of play that roaming zone with her and we’re lucky Dani can hit 3s. But if you’re not making them, then you’re taking your big man away from the boards, so we gambled a little bit.”
Scully made it pay off. She was never really worried that it wouldn’t.
“None of us were really scoring,” said Scully, who finished with eight points. “It was a really low-scoring game and our offense wasn’t really there, so I felt like if nobody was shooting, I had to shoot.
“Good came out of it.”
Indeed, the Roadrunners pulled out a game they easily could have lost, which would have been a huge shock given the way the game started.
Burlington Central (7-5) was shut out in the second quarter and went 10 minutes without scoring, yet rallied to take the lead by the end of the third quarter.
Neither team scored a basket in the second quarter until Carstensen sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Roadrunners a 10-5 halftime edge.
With Charles, who had 18 rebounds, limiting the Roadrunners to one shot on most possessions, the Rockets stayed in it and outscored Nazareth 19-11 in the third quarter behind the hot hand of guard Rylie Duval, who buried four consecutive 3-pointers en route to a game-high 12 points.
“I think once Rylie hit that first one, it really gave everyone a little bit of an exhale, a breath of fresh air,” Burlington Central coach Collin Kalamatas said. “It was a lot of weight off our shoulders because it was a struggle even finding an open look in that first quarter.”
Kalamatas was not surprised with Duval’s sudden eruption.
“Rylie’s been doing that all year for us,” Kalamatas said. “She’s hit big shots time after time and that was another case of her being ready to step up and make a play for us.”
Duval’s final trey gave the Rockets a 24-21 lead heading into the fourth quarter. But Dray, who had eight of her team-high 10 points in the second half, scored on a layup and that set the stage for Workman and Scully.
“I feel like we just had to relax a little bit,” Scully said. “We were kind of speeding up, and when we speed up our offense, we just kind of give it away, so I feel like slowing it down was good.”
The Rockets never threatened after that. Charles, who in addition to her rebounding had nine points, four steals and three blocks, scored on a putback at the buzzer to account for the final margin.
“She’s a fun player to have,” Kalamatas said. “Even though she didn’t really have it going offensively the first two games here, her impact on the defensive end is incredible.
“It’s impossible to measure her ability to rebound and contest shots. What’s really going to make us a special team is when she gets her offensive game going.”