EF girls rely on defense in OT win over Hampton

| Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012

Sam Kosanovich has one simple rule: If you are open, shoot the ball because eventually it will go in.

But what happens when it doesn't?

That's easy ... just force 52 turnovers with your unrelenting defense.

Elizabeth Forward brushed aside 57 missed shots, turned up the defensive pressure and earned its first playoff win since 2001 with a laborious 34-31 overtime victory over Hampton at North Hills.

EF had lost nine consecutive first-round playoff games.

The Lady Warriors advanced to Saturday's quarterfinal against top-seeded Hopewell, a 60-24 winner over Belle Vernon.

"I can't begin to tell you how fortunate I feel about this game," Kosanovich said.

Shooting 12-of-69 from the floor including 0-of-20 from 3-point range permits you to feel fortunate to win.

"Yes, we had a bad shooting night, I understand," Kosanovich said. "When the ball is not falling — and it surely wasn't falling — we have to do something. We believe that defense wins games. We had to believe in that tonight. If we gave up on defense, we would've lost this game."

Elizabeth Forward (18-4) forced Hampton (12-10) to turn the ball over 10 times in the first and seconds quarters; 11 in the third; 13 in the fourth; and eight times in the decisive four-minute overtime period.

"They just kept coming at us, coming at us and they never said die," Hampton coach Mary Bukovac said. "Even if you think you are in the free, they are coming at you by sending another kid at you. They created a lot of those turnovers."

Elizabeth Forward got just enough offense to earn the win. Some was from the expected (14 from Dana Buck) while the other offensive outburst wasn't — 14 from Alison Pastore.

Pastore took over late in the game, as she scored 13 of her 14 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, including all five of the Lady Warriors' points in the extra period.

"I don't know if we expected it or not from her, but we know what she is able to do, so that is why we put the ball in her hands in the end," Kosanovich said. "We wanted the ball in Ali's hands. She gives us the best shot to drive or kick it out. She did a splendid job."

Pastore shot well from the floor, hitting 3-of-8 shots, but created the most problems for Hampton by driving the lane. She went to the free-throw line 11 times in the fourth quarter and overtime, and made eight.

"It was very frustrating, but we always say if you can play good defense, then it doesn't matter if your shots aren't falling," Pastore said. "That's what kept us in this game."

EF missed its first six shots of the game to set the tone, as it trailed by as many as seven by halftime and nine early in the second half.

EF whittled away at its deficit with inside play from Buck, and got to within 29-26 with less than a minute to go.

Enter Pastore.

The sophomore guard drove the lane, made the basket and was fouled to tie the game at 29-29 that eventual would send it into overtime.

It was a controversial call by the officials.

"I thought maybe they should've called that on the floor," Bukovac said.

Pastore didn't totally disagree.

"I was shooting that," Pastore said with a laugh.

In overtime, Pastore's layup 90 seconds in gave EF a 31-29 lead and the defense took over after that creating five turnovers over the final two minutes.

"It was our effort defensively," Kosanovich said. "It was our pressing and trapping and never giving up is what causes that. It wasn't pretty, but whatever you have to do to win, you do."

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