AVON — The Avon fans in attendance Wednesday when the Eagles and Amherst met in a Southwestern Conference battle will probably remember how the game started.
Coach Megan Larrick and the rest of Avon’s coaching staff were likely more impressed by how it ended.
The Eagles scored the first 12 points of the game and then withstood a Comets rally by holding Amherst to six points over the final quarter and a half to pull away for a 44-34 victory.
Avon (9-4, 7-3) was led by junior Elizabeth Flynn, who had a game-high 15 points, and senior Juliann Walker, who scored seven of her 10 points in the first half.
But as is usually the case for the Eagles, they got everyone involved in the offense, with six players scoring before Amherst recorded its first points of the game on a Marisa Gillam layup with 4:03 to play in the opening quarter.
Gilliam, a senior guard, led the Comets (7-7, 5-6) with 10 points.
“We have a lot of big games coming up so this was a big win for us to push us in the right direction,” Walker said.
Although the Comets trailed 21-12 at the half, they came out in the third quarter with renewed energy, scoring the first four points of the half and going on a 14-3 run to take their first lead of the game 26-24 on a Gillam 3-pointer with 4:08 to play in the period.
“We played a terrible first half and dug ourselves a huge hole,” Amherst coach Kevin Collins said. “We started the second half with a lot of energy. It took everything we had to dig out of that hole and we did it. But after we took the lead, I don’t think we had a whole lot left after that.
“We used everything we had and we were running on fumes by the end. We’re still a young team. We’re learning. We’re doing a lot of things well for periods of time. We just have to be more consistent with it.”
Avon’s defense held the Comets to 28-percent shooting and though Amherst held a 36-29 rebounding edge — led by Amaya Staton’s 12 — it could not turn those second and third chances into points.
“Our defense is driven by senior Maggie Beatty,” Larrick said. “We always ask her to play against the biggest threat on the opposing offense and she accepts the challenge each and every day. Her defensive intensity really helps us win ballgames.”
Beatty helped hold Comets leading scorer Kamryn Dziak, who came into the game averaging 14.4 points, to eight.
In the second half, Avon scored 12 of its 23 points from the free throw line with senior guard Karlee Clements going 7-for-8 and Flynn making all four of her foul shots.
“We were getting a lot of stops in our press tonight and that really helped up keep up the intensity,” Flynn said. “Last time we played Amherst here it was not a good game so we knew we had to bring the intensity because we figured they’d come in thinking they could beat us again.”
Avon swept the season series from the Comets after also beating them on their home court 43-40 in overtime earlier in the year.
“We were disappointed with our last game when we lost against Lakewood and we’ve been working really hard in practice this week on executing our offense and trying to get stops defensively,” Larrick said. “Our defense basically runs our offense. If we’re playing good defense, we’re scoring. Our goal every time is to hold our opponents to under 40 points. We still have areas we need to improve but it was really good to see the girls put the ball in the hoop tonight.”
Contact Todd Shapiro at 329-7135 or firstname.lastname@example.org.