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With a pair of Interstate Eight Conference heavyweights squaring off Monday night, one school had a great chance to claim a statement victory.
Unfortunately for host Lisle, Seneca used a number of second chances on offense -- coupled with some solid defense -- to lead the way to a key 42-28 win. The Irish improved to 17-3 overall and 7-3 in conference while handing the Lions (16-4, 7-1) their first loss in league action.
Lisle took an early 8-4 lead following a basket inside by Leah Reeves, but Seneca closed the first quarter with a 6-0 run capped by a pair of free throws by Anna Baker, who was fouled after grabbing an offensive rebound. More of that followed in the second quarter, and the Irish scored 10 second-chance points while claiming a 24-15 lead at the half.
"The difference in the game was offensive rebounds," Lisle coach Nick Balaban said. "We jumped out to an 8-4 lead and then they took a 10-8 lead because we didn't box out on three straight possessions. Then it was a 12-12 game and it went to 18-12 and those three possessions once again, they scored on offensive rebounds."
On a night when the Lions' offense struggled to get going against the Irish defense, matters were made worse for the hosts as Danielle Hauch and Baker combined for 9 offensive boards. Even when the Irish didn't convert every extra opportunity on the offensive end, the rebounding edge still was limiting Lisle's chances to get back into the contest.
"In the second half we did a little better job, but even when they didn't score off the offensive rebounds it gave them extra possessions," Balaban said. "They're a good team; well-coached. They run good stuff offensively. I don't care who you are you can't give teams second and third opportunities."
Seneca's lead grew to 30-15 early in the second half before the Lions showed some fight. With Sarah Mogensen knocking down both a 3-pointer and a 2-pointer in the third quarter, the Lions eventually closed the gap to 9 early in the fourth quarter before Seneca used some red-hot free-throw shooting to seal the big conference win.
"You hope you can put it in the first time, but when you get a second shot, you had better make it," Seneca coach Barb Beck said of her team's second chances. "That does make a difference."
Also making a difference was foul shooting, where the Irish were 18 of 22 and Lisle was 7 of 10. Seneca guard Mallory Misener was 8 of 8 from the line, and Baker went 7 of 8 while scoring a game-high 15 points.
Mogensen and Sierra Birdsell each tallied 8 points for Lisle, which is still without defensive stopper Kate Twaddle, who has been out with an ankle injury since Dec. 20.