'Our defense won the game'Demons limit Fort Madison to 16 points to win Southeast Conference contest
No. 14 Washington struggled offensively in Tuesday’s Southeast Conference girls’ basketball game against visiting Fort Madison, scoring just 37 points on 32 percent shooting.
But the Demons had what may have been their best defensive performance of the season, limiting the Bloodhounds to just 16 points as they picked up a 37-16 win.
“I feel like our defense tonight was what won the game,” Washington junior Stephanie Fishback said. “It felt good knowing that our defense was good enough when our offense was off. It was not a good offensive day, but our defense was there to pick us up.”
The young Bloodhounds, who have just one senior on their roster, turned the ball over on each of their first seven possessions on Tuesday night, allowing the Demons to run out to a 12-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
“We ran our thumbs up [defense], which made them nervous with the ball,” Fishback said. “They had a lot of freshmen in, so we just wanted to put a lot of pressure on them, and I guess that worked.”
But after taking a 12-0 lead, the Demons went scoreless for nearly nine minutes, allowing the Bloodhounds to trim the lead to 12-8 on sophomore Ali Burghoffer’s layup early in the second quarter.
“I liked the way we responded,” Fort Madison head coach Todd McGhghy said. “For a while there we made a pretty good run.”
After Burghoffer’s basket, the Bloodhounds didn’t score for the final 6½ minutes of the first half, and Washington closed the second quarter on a 10-0 run to take a 22-8 lead into halftime.
“How can I complain about giving up eight points in the first half?” Washington head coach Phil Long asked. “I went into the locker room pretty ecstatic about being up 22-8.”
Washington allowed just eight more points in the second half, and the Demons extended their lead to as many as 25 points in the fourth quarter.
“If we continue to play like that, then I guess we can win with 37 or 40 points a night,” Long said.
Washington forced the Bloodhounds into 23 turnovers, and the Demons took 20 more shots from the field.
“We struggled shooting the ball in the half court,” Long said. “We got a lot of good looks, but we just never got the shots to drop. We have a very bright future, because that offense is going to come one of these days.”
Eight of Washington’s 12 players scored, and Fishback led a balanced Demon offense with eight points. Junior Grace Redlinger added seven points, while seniors Johannah Vittetoe and Sammy Ellingson both had five.
Freshman Sarah Steffensmeier made a pair of 3-pointers and scored six points to lead the Bloodhounds (2-7, 0-3 SEC). Burghoffer added five points.
With the win, Washington improved to 8-2 overall and 3-0 in SEC play.
“It’s hard for me to complain walking out of here 3-0 [in conference play],” Long said. “We wanted to be 3-0. That was our goal, and we accomplished that.”