Once the St. Edward girls basketball team figured out how the game was being called, its season opener became a breeze.
Withstanding the new "hands off" rules early in the game, St. Edward went on a 28-1 run bridging the second and third quarters and even going early into the fourth, rolling to a 46-20 nonconference win over Westmont in Elgin Tuesday night.
"The first half we just couldn't get into a flow," said Green Wave coach Michelle Dawson, whose team started last season 0-13. "There were just so many fouls. We have to learn to adjust to it just like every team in the state. We've been talking about it in practice but until you get into a game and see how it's going to be called you don't know."
After 22 fouls and 28 free-throw attempts in the first half, things did settle down in the second half, but that was also due to St. Edward's defensive dominance. The Green Wave helped create 23 Sentinel turnovers in the final 16 minutes. Westmont was held scoreless in the third quarter and scored just 4 points in the fourth, shooting 1 of 11 in the second half.
"The press got us energized a little," Dawson said. "Some of our shots started to fall and we got into a better rhythm."
Westmont held a 15-10 lead with 4:41 left in the first half and St. Edward was struggling with its shot, as well as with fouls. But then the Green Wave got untracked and grabbed their first lead at 17-15 on a 3-pointer from freshman Maddie Spagnola (7 points, 3 steals) with 2:49 to go in the second quarter. By halftime, the Wave had stretched the lead to 23-16 and before Westmont would score again, St. Edward led 38-16 early in the fourth quarter.
Westmont went 15 minutes, 30 seconds without a field goal until Amanda Pretle hit an 8-footer with 6:40 left in the game.
"We were getting the right shots, they just weren't falling," said Wave senior Katie Swanson, who had 9 points and 6 steals. "We had to pick things up and that's what we did in the second half. The first half we didn't know what to expect. It's hard to go from playing so long to a different standard but we adjusted."
Junior Casey Gredzieleski also had 9 points for St. Edward, while senior Clarissa Ramos added 8 points. Junior Cece Rapp had 6 points and 8 rebounds. St. Edward shot 16-for-46 on the night (10-for-23 in the second half) and had a relatively low, for a season opener, 16 turnovers. Westmont shot just 6 of 34 for the game but did outrebound the Green Wave 38-31. The Sentinels had 31 turnovers.
Annie Carlson led Westmont with 6 points.