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Already tight, Batavia made the Upstate Eight River Division race even more interesting by lighting up the scoreboard Tuesday night in a 74-49 victory over conference-leader St. Charles East.
Junior Liza Fruendt led four players in double figures with 28 points — moving her to 969 for her career — as the Bulldogs handed the Saints their first River loss in convincing fashion.
Batavia (13-7, 4-2) scored 28 points in a near-perfect third quarter, turning a 5-point halftime lead into a rout.
"I knew it was a tight race," said Batavia freshman Hannah Frazier who just missed a double-double with 11 points and 9 rebounds. "They are a good team, they beat Geneva and Streamwood. We just wanted to come out and play our best."
St. Charles East (10-9, 5-1) is now tied for the River lead with Streamwood. Both teams are one game ahead of Batavia and Geneva (10-8, 4-2).
The Saints dropped their second straight as they get used to playing without Paige Jordan. The team's leading scorer over the past three seasons, Jordan left the team before their Dec. 29 game against Downers Grove North.
"Paige is no longer with the team," Saints coach Lori Drumtra said Tuesday. "Other people have to take a little more of an offensive mindset.
"That type of thing happens all the time with injuries, you have to adjust. We've talked about making up those points. There's plenty of people that can score. It's just a matter of thinking that way.
"It is what it is. We still have half the year to adjust to it. And I think we will."
Drumtra was much more concerned with her team's performance on the defensive end Tuesday than any offensive woes. Fruendt opened the scoring by splitting the defense for a lay-in 12 seconds into the game — a sign of what was to come.
Fruendt, who also hit 6 of 7 at the line, made many of her 10 field goals penetrating through the Saints defense all the way to the rim.
The junior credited a good practice Monday for the team's strong play that saw them shoot 54 percent from the field (28 for 52) and 85 percent at the line (11 for 13) while also draining seven 3-point baskets.
The Bulldogs — with their 8-player roster — often scrimmage against some of coach Kevin Jensen's former boys players who played on the Batavia freshman boys team he coached two years ago and are now juniors.
"There was just something different we had today we didn't have last game," Fruendt said. "We wanted to go to our pace. We just pushed the ball and that started to get us more open looks. We created shots for each other and it just became easier."
The Saints missed their first 7 shots — they finished at 29 percent, 17 for 59 — before a Laney Deckrow basket. St. Charles East took its only leads of the game late in the first quarter, but a Miranda Grizaffi 3 and Fruendt's steal and layup in the final seconds put Batavia ahead 14-12.
The Bulldogs led 24-14 early in the second before Amanda Hilton scored 8 points in the final three minutes of the first half to keep the Saints within 29-24 at halftime.
A Carly Pottle 3 and Kyra Washington jumper had the Saints trailing 32-29 before Batavia broke the game open with runs of 10-0 and 19-6. Fruendt scored 11 points in the third quarter and Grizaffi had 8 as Batavia made 11 of its 15 field goal attempts to race to a 57-38 lead.
"I don't know what got into us. We got hot," Jensen said. "I just thought we played a real well-rounded good game. I was pleased with our defense, I thought we rebounded the ball exceptionally well."
The Saints didn't get closer than 18 points in the final quarter on Hilton's back-to-back 3s. She led her team with 17 points and Deckrow added 10.
"Our defense giving up 74 points is unacceptable," Drumtra said. "Our help defense was nonexistent. We weren't taking very good angles. They played hard, it's not a matter of playing hard. We're not playing smart."
Drumtra tried a box-and-1 briefly in the first half on Fruendt and also played a little zone.
"Give their other shooters credit, they picked it up," Drumtra said. "I'm impressed by how she (Fruendt) finds her other teammates. She does a very nice job of that."
Grizaffi added 11 points, Erin Bayram 10 points and Bethany Orman 8 for Batavia.
Fruendt can reach 1,000 points for her career with 31 against Geneva Friday. She scored 26 in a 60-56 loss in the first meeting in a game that had 22 ties or lead changes.
"This is a big week for us," Jensen said. "If we can come out and play well on Friday I feel that's really going to give us a boost through the end of the season. It's going to be a tough game, a heck of an atmosphere. It will be a big-time game for us. If we have hopes of being at the top of the conference it's a game we need to win."
Follow John Lemon on Twitter at @jlemonDH