Huntington challenged No. 3 Karr at every turn Thursday, but the Lady Raiders didn’t have enough fuel left at the end as the Lady Cougars escaped Shreveport with a 46-39 win.
The Cougars (28-3) double-teamed Caitlin Jenkins even when she didn’t have the ball, throwing big bodies at the 6-foot-2 Southern Miss signee.
Jenkins finished with 19 points, but Karr coach Jennifer Barber said trapping No. 19 Huntington’s (17-11) guards to make touches tougher for Jenkins allowed the Cougars to recover from a one-point halftime deficit.
“We knew that Caitlin would get hers, but our job was to contain her and not give her second-chance opportunities,” Barber said. “I was very impressed with Caitlin … and I think that kid will do awesome at Southern Miss.
“By trapping the guards, we got some tips and pick offs to get full court layups early in the second half.”
Huntington led 24-23 at the half but could muster just 15 second-half points.
Karr opened the second half with the first six points – all off Huntington turnovers – to build a 29-24 lead that never shrank below three points.
Karr’s Destiny Collins scored 17 points while Behema Franklin added 12. Huntington’s Tanisha Briggs (10 points) and De’Asia Dixon (eight points) were two of the other three scorers for the Lady Raiders.
The Lady Raiders never went away, though, trailing 31-28 late in the third quarter and 35-32 early in the fourth quarter after a pair of Jenkins’ free throws.
But a Huntington team that expended so much energy in the first half outhustling Karr appeared to tire in the fourth quarter, making 11-of-23 free throws overall.
Jenkins made 11-of-20 from the line herself while also recording at least five blocks protecting the rim.
“I thought we had a good chance to win it, and I knew in my heart that we would win, but we fell a little short,” Jenkins said. “I think played good as a team and played together.
“We played hard in both halves, but if we would have the same intensity in the second half as we had in first, it might have been different. But we lost the game from the free-throw line, missed way too many.”
Karr had two posts foul out midway through the fourth quarter, but the big blow came with two minutes left when Jenkins picked up her fifth foul.
Jenkins had two fouls in the fourth quarter, but she said she didn’t realize she was in imminent foul trouble when the whistle blew for the fifth time.
But coach Danielle Butler won’t focus on how the Jenkins’ era ended at Huntington but how much Caitlin grew in her four years.
“She came in as this little scrawny girl who could barely walk straight, and she’s grown into this person that has carried our team,” Butler said. “She matured a lot physically and mentally and was a leader a lot more than she was in the past.
“Caitlin’s used to seeing double and triple teams, but I think Karr was a lot more physical than we’re used to seeing.”
A My’Kalah Johnson bucket pulled Huntington to 42-39 with 1:12 left, but Karr scored the final four points in the win.
Part of Huntington’s fatigue can be linked to a lack of practice time because of inclement weather, and although Butler said that’s no excuse, she did say one practice this week affected conditioning.
“When you’re tired, your brain shuts down and sometimes you forget to use your legs or arc the ball,” Butler said. “They played hard even when they were tired … and overall I am satisfied.
“I think we surprised (Karr) a little bit, and I don’t think they thought we would jump out the way we did.”