However, Lick fought through some rough stretches and kept its league record unblemished with a 51-43 victory over rival Convent of the Sacred Heart.
Lick (16-3, 5-0) opened up an 18-4 lead early and overcame a cold-shooting fourth quarter to pick up the win.
“Our kids were shooting and the rim got a little tight on us, then we started pressing the issue and we started to lose a little patience,” Lick-Wilmerding coach Daniel Tesfai said. “But our kids held their heads high and played really well on defense. [We] persevered and did really well.”
Applying pressure defense behind guards Aki Shurelds and Ayzhiana Basallo, and the post play of Maya Burris, Lick jumped all over Convent 18-4, before eventually taking a 30-19 lead into halftime.
Basallo — a freshman averaging 13.6 points a game — scored 10 first-half points and finished with 14. Shurelds fell a point shy of her season average of 13.2 points while playing exceptional defense on Convent’s senior leader, Jaime Hum-Nishikado, who averages 20.5 points a game. Hum-Nishikado finished with a hard-earned 16 points. Burris finished with a game-high 18 points.
“When our guards play well, our posts feeds off of that and play well,” Tesfai said. “Without Aki, I don’t know how far we’ll go. She guards the opposing teams’ top player and does a real good job doing it.”
Despite having issues with turnovers, Convent scrapped its way back into the game in the second half.
Down 45-30, Convent reached back and found energy for one final rally. Hum-Nishikado sank a 3-pointer from the right wing to cut the deficit to six with 1:04 left in regulation, but it was too little, too late.
“In the end it came down to getting defensive stops, boxing out and getting rebounds, and we only did that 50 percent of the time,” said Convent coach Jen Hum-Traverso. “Lick played good fundamental defense and it threw us off a little.”