WILMINGTON – It had been 13 days since the girls basketball teams from Howard and William Penn had played a game, so there was some rust to shake off.
The Colonials got off to the better start, but the Wildcats ruled the final three quarters as Howard exploited its size advantage in a 43-32 victory over 10th-ranked William Penn on Wednesday at the Diamond State Classic.
The Wildcats (3-2) fell behind 10-4 after one quarter, but coach Curtis Clack wasn’t worried.
“We just dug deep,” Clack said. “We’ve been off for a week and a half almost, so I expected us to come out a little slow, a little sluggish. But I told them to just maintain what we normally do, and we should be all right.”
Howard chipped away in the second quarter, pulling within 14-12 on a 15-footer by Ronnasia Blatch-Huggins and taking an 18-17 halftime lead on Kaamilah Diabate’s layup off a nice assist from Na’Leigha Wright.
Then the Wildcats really cranked it up, scoring 15 of the first 17 points in the third quarter. Kayla Rouse had three of the buckets, and Blatch-Huggins assisted on Wright’s layup to push the Howard lead to 33-19 with 3:02 remaining in the third quarter.
“We passed the ball more, and we just hustled,” said Rouse, who dominated inside with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
Rouse, a 6-foot-1 junior, starts alongside 6-foot senior Ronnasia Blatch-Huggins and 6-foot sophomore Ronnay Blatch-Huggins on the Wildcats’ front line. Those three combined for 23 rebounds as the Wildcats won the battle of the boards 36-29.
“We definitely try to utilize our size advantage as much as possible,” Clack said. “But we also have some pretty decent guards, and we try to get them featured as well. We play inside out.”
Ronnasia Blatch-Huggins added 10 points for Howard, which advanced to play Institute of Notre Dame from Baltimore in the championship game of the Delaware Cup bracket at 6 p.m. Friday.
William Penn (3-1) got 15 points and six rebounds from Shanira Mitchell, and five points, five rebounds and nine steals from speedy senior Alize Felton. The Colonials will meet Padua in the Delaware Cup third-place game at 1 Friday.
Contact Brad Myers at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter: @BradMyersTNJ.