Naperville Central snaps West Aurora's 8-game streak
Naperville Central junior guard Gabi Melby took to heart the pregame message of her coach, Andy Nussbaum.
"He just said to go out there with a love of basketball," she said.
Melby connected on four 3-pointers in scoring a career-best 28 points as the visiting Redhawks defeated West Aurora 72-35 Monday.
Creating off the dribble and scoring off the catch and shoot, Melby scored 17 points in the second half as Naperville Central (6-4) smashed the Blackhawks' eight-game season opening winning streak.
"I think we just came out with a lot of energy," Melby said. "I just focused on getting in my rhythm. We played with a lot of intensity."
Naperville Central took charge late in the second half, sparked by the outside shooting of guards, sophomore Aditi Prasad and junior Karly Maida.
Prasad finished with 10 points.
Her 4-point play midway through the second quarter sparked a 17-2 Redhawks' run that provided a 35-19 halftime lead.
Maida scored 12 points. Prasad and Maida hit two 3-pointers apiece during the second quarter blitz.
All of Maida's points were generated from beyond the arc as she hit four 3-pointers.
The hot shooting marked a strong reversal after the Redhawks missed on 10 of their first 11 3-point attempts.
As Naperville Central heated up, the Blackhawks (8-1) had no answer. Naperville Central had a 36-6 advantage in 3-point differential.
"This is by far the best we have played all year," Nussbaum said. "We just wanted to be relentless."
Another talented guard, senior Kaitlyn Allen, added 9 points for the Redhawks.
"We just wanted to win for each other," Allen said. "We were coming off two losses. Hopefully this is a turning point for us."
The Redwings' outside shooting turned the one-point game (18-17) midway through the second quarter into a rout.
West Aurora junior Jalyssa Carrasco led the Blackhawks with 10 points, all coming in the first half.
No West Aurora players had more than a single field goal in the second half.
"I feel like we came out a little flat," said Blackhawks' senior guard Izzy Lambert. "The shots were not falling for us. They had a really good night. You have to give credit to them."
West Aurora also played without leading scorer, sophomore guard Riley Mont, who is expected to miss the next three weeks after suffering a foot injury in a game last week.
The Redhawks also limited West Aurora center Olivia Vanderwoude to just six points.
Melby dissolved any chance of a West Aurora comeback by making two 3-pointers that triggered a running clock at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Naperville Central's 5-guard, perimeter oriented offense proved unstoppable on the night.
"Look at our size," said Nussbaum. "How else are we going to play."