Last Friday, the Toll Gate girls’ basketball team committed too many turnovers and struggled to rebound the ball in a blow-out loss to West Warwick. As the Titans traveled to East Greenwich on Tuesday night, they were looking to correct those problems.
Instead, they were left with more of the same.
Against an aggressive, pressing Avengers squad, the Titans committed 24 turnovers and gave up 14 offensive rebounds. The struggles came to a head in a 21-0 first-half run, and the Avengers cruised from there en route to a 61-29 victory.
“It was the same situation against West Warwick,” said Toll Gate coach John Paolino said. “Too many turnovers and not boxing out and rebounding. We’ve been working on it every day in practice. Not having the two big girls hurts, but there’s no excuse. The past two games, we’ve just gotten manhandled on the boards.”
Tuesday’s loss dropped the Titans to 0-3 in league play and 1-8 overall. There have been plenty of positive developments in the early part of the season, but the last two games haven’t been the step forward the Titans were looking for.
“I usually have a lot of good things to say, but we’ve really got to be physically and mentally tougher as individuals and as a team,” Paolino said. “That’s what we just talked about and that’s all there is to it.”
The Titans matched East Greenwich in the first two minutes of Tuesday’s game, getting a fast-break bucket from Kelsey Kurbiec and a short jumper by Ingrid Freeman to make it 4-4.
But then things fell apart.
Over the next 4:11, the Titans didn’t score a point and turned the ball over six times, most coming in the backcourt against the East Greenwich press. The Avengers took full advantage of the easy opportunities, blitzing Toll Gate for a 21-0 run.
“Too many turnovers,” Paolino said. “We’re not doing a bad job of handling the pressure but then we just make poor decisions with the basketball and turn it over.”
Keri Pallister had 10 points in the surge, with four of them coming on putbacks. Kaley McMullen and Margaret McCaffrey each had four points in the run.
The Titans stopped the onslaught with 9:18 left in the first half when they broke the press and ended up with a layup for Laura McGuire. Freeman followed with a free throw, before Lauren Barnes scored on a putback and then hit two free throws, making it 25-11 with 6:33 left in the half.
But there would be no comeback. The Avengers forced six more turnovers before the break and outscored the Titans 13-4.
Toll Gate shot 26 percent from the field in the first half and committed 14 turnovers.
“East Greenwich is very fast and very quick,” Paolino said. “We’re not as athletic as they are.”
The Titans were playing without injured post players Nicole Fraser and Courtney Sheridan. That didn’t help the cause, especially in the rebounding department. The Avengers continued to pound the glass in the second half, getting two follows in the first two minutes to power an 8-0 run that removed any remaining doubt.
Pallister scored a game-high 16 to lead the Avengers, while McMullen added 10. Barnes was a bright spot for Toll Gate with 11 points.
The Titans will try to regroup before another league game on Saturday. They’ll visit Coventry at 4 p.m.
“We’ll try to stay positive and keep working,” Paolino said.