MURFREESBORO – Top-ranked Blackman put the brakes on fifth-ranked Oakland’s upset bid Friday night with a fourth-quarter defensive stand, then held on late to defeat the Lady Patriots 66-60 at Randy King Gymnasium.
In the process, the Lady Blaze remained unbeaten in District 7-AAA play.
Blackman, ranked third in this week’s MaxPreps national poll, went on a 12-0 run starting with the 1:09 mark of the third quarter and held Oakland scoreless for 4:04 before Paris Lawson’s layup cut Blackman’s lead to 57-47.
“Early we didn’t do well defensively,” Blackman coach Chad Hibdon said. “That affects our offense. Then we made a nice stretch in the third quarter. We were forcing and creating turnovers, and that really gave us confidence on the offensive end.”
Blackman buried 10 3-pointers in the game as Oakland chose to begin the game in a 2-3 zone in an effort to slow down the Lady Blaze’s inside game.
“You’ve got to pick your poison with Blackman,” Oakland coach Jennifer Grandstaff said. “We kept thinking they were going to cool off. But they didn’t. I think they shot the ball even better in the second half, so we had to come out with them. The dribble penetration gave us some problems.
“You have to try a little bit of everything when you play a team that talented.”
Crystal Dangerfield, a Connecticut commitment, led the Lady Blaze (18-2 overall, 8-0 in 7-AAA) with 18 points and seven assists. Georgia State signee KK Williams had 14 points. MTSU signee Alex Johnson recorded 12 points and five rebounds. And Tennessee signee MeMe Jackson added 11.
Eastern Kentucky signee Abby Wright led the Lady Patriots (17-4, 5-3) with 18 points. Shelby Gibson had 15 points and Belmont signee Paris Lawson had 14.
Oakland, which shot 22.5 percent in a 40-26 loss to the Lady Blaze in their first meeting, shot 57 percent from the field in the first half and was tied at 24 at the break.
And its offense put them back in the game with a late run. Trailing by nine with 3:58 remaining, Oakland rattled off seven straight, capping the comeback with Ansley Eubank’s steal and layup.
Dangerfield, the reigning Tennessee Gatorade Player of the Year, had the answer. She followed Eubank’s bucket with a pull-up jumper to make it 61-57. Blackman then hit 5 of 6 free throws in the final 39 seconds to seal the win.
“We have to give credit to them,” Dangerfield said. “They were hitting shots that don’t normally go in for any other team, even us.”
Contact Tom Kreager at 615-278-5168 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Kreager.