To say that the fourth quarter between the Piscataway and South Plainfield girls basketball teams was a back and forth battle would be an understatement.
With South Plainfield clinging to a 29-28 lead going into the fourth, Meaghan Wells scored on a putback for Piscataway to put the Chiefs ahead 30-29 after they had relinquished their lead in the third quarter.
That was the first of many lead changes in the final eight minutes as the teams had nine lead changes and five ties until Piscataway pulled away at the end for a 46-40 win over the Tigers on Saturday afternoon in a Greater Middlesex Conference inter-division match.
Neither team ever led by more than two points in the fourth quarter until Piscataway, down 40-39 with 2:06 left, closed the game on a 7-0 run with their final 11 points coming from the free throw line.
“Couldn’t get over the hump, couldn’t make it a two possession game, ever (in the fourth quarter),” South Plainfield coach Kevin Hughes said. “I think that was big. I think if we got up two or three possessions, we stayed in our zone, and we started rebounding, we could have been okay but we just couldn’t do it.”
Piscataway (2-2) got contributions from everywhere, as senior guard Shayla Glenn led the way with 12 points while Kristyn Shea, Wells, and Kiki Bynes each chipped in seven points and Isis Dwyer added six as first year coach Corey Floyd went 11 players deep on his bench.
“Right now it’s a big rebuilding year for us as far as the girls and looking for a scorer,” Floyd said, as Piscataway graduated its all-time leading scorer Danaejah Grant. “Grant is gone and basically we’re going to have to use all five players on the floor to look to score.”
Shea epitomized her versatile role, as the senior guard/forward manned virtually every position on Saturday, starting the game running the point, playing on the wing, and also contributing down low.
“We don’t have one superstar, but we have five good players and when we step up to our roles and we work on what we need to do, then we’ll end up getting the job done,” Shea said.
The Chiefs also were big on the offensive glass, as 19 of their 29 rebounds were on the offensive boards.
“On the boards, we’re not the best rebounding team but we try to gang rebound and grab the boards,” said Floyd, as Piscatway’s two tallest players are only 5-10.
South Plainfield (2-2) led 16-12 after the first quarter and led by as many as seven as Shannon McMahon and Kate McLaughlin each knocked down two 3s, but they trailed by three at halftime after getting outscored 10-3 in the second quarter as Piscataway started to press more and cause turnovers.
“We were shooting the ball well, they turned up their pressure, and we just couldn’t handle it,” Hughes said.
The Tigers regained the lead midway through the third quarter as an 8-0 run put them ahead 29-24 before Piscataway ended the quarter on a 4-0 run.
McLaughlin led South Plainfield with 12 points, while McMahon and Jackie Dvorak each finished with eight.