McDonogh girls basketball coach Brad Rees knows that his team’s offense isn’t overpowering. So his Eagles have really taken pride on the defensive end and it has paid off this season.

Thanks to a swarming defensive effort and a balanced scoring, host McDonogh was able to extend its winning streak to 16 consecutive games after a 66-49 win over rival Archbishop Spalding on Wednesday night.

“Our defensive pressure really causes trouble and allows us to control the tempo,” Rees said. “We’re not the best offensive team but when we get into a defensive flow like tonight, we’re pretty hard to beat.”

The No. 5 Cavaliers also play tough defense – utilizing a full-court press that gives most teams nightmares. Typically, teams that presses don’t like to be pressed themselves. However, the Eagles remained composed and handled Spalding’s pressure with relative ease.

“They’re very tough to press,” Spalding coach Bookie Rosemond said. “We couldn’t get too many easy baskets. We weren’t able to create offense from our defense. They played very tough full-court, man-to-man offense, they’re almost like the team we had last year. It’s tough to press them.”

Senior Tiersa Winder scored a game-high 19 points, including 11 in the second half. Freshman Danielle Edwards finished with 18 and senior Taylor Cummings added 11 for McDonogh (18-1 overall, 10-0 IAAM A).

Senior guard Raven Makins paced Spalding (13-6, 7-2) with 13 points, while Tori Chestnut had 12. The loss snapped an eight-game winning streak by the Cavaliers that began back on Dec. 28 in the Boo Williams Christmas Tournament.

The Eagles took a 17-7 lead after one quarter. Spalding fought back and behind a bucket from Jade Scaife, the Cavaliers tied the game at 21-21 late in the second quarter.

Brianna Jacobs responded with a 3-pointer, Cummings added a layup and Edwards made two free throws to give McDonogh a 28-21 advantage at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Eagles’ defensive pressure forced nine turnovers that allowed them to stretch their lead out to 17 points.

McDonogh used a 9-0 run late in the quarter to take a commanding 42-25 lead. Winder and Edwards hit back-to-back 3-pointers that were followed by a free throw by Edwards and a drive by Cummings.

“We play a straight up man-to-man and I think the defense is what gets us going,” Cummings said. “We’re not necessarily the best offensive team but we make things happen on defense that allows us to be successful on offense. We’re a very aggressive, very fast team and it works.”

Spalding opened the fourth quarter with a quick run. Makins finished inside, Camille Calhoun hit a free throw and Makins scored after grabbing an offensive rebound to bring the Cavaliers within 42-33.

Hannah Rees (nine points) answered with a 3-pointer, then Cummings threw a court length pass to Winder, who made a layup and was fouled.  McDonogh’s lead would not drop below 10 points for the rest of the game.

“We came out to win and we did,” Winder said. “We always come out to hustle. We know how our winning [streak] can put a big target on our backs but we’re trying to keep that record alive. This was a good run. They were tough but we held it out.”

Rosemond knows that his team has to learn from this game and finish out the regular season strong.

“They’re smart, disciplined, patient and they can shoot,” Rosemond said about McDonogh. “If you put them on the foul line, they’ll make it. The few they missed, they got the rebound which was the worst part of the evening. It’s a great learning experience. Hopefully, we’ll get another opportunity against them.”

No. 2 McDonogh 66, No. 5 Archbishop Spalding 49
Calhoun 5, Chestnut 12, K. Clark 2, Epps 8, Griffith 3, Makins 13, Scaife. Totals 16 14-22 49.
Kobb 1, Rees 9, Edwards 18, Cummings 11, Jacobs 8, Winder 19.Totals 18 24-36 66.