Behind a steady game from junior guard De’Shia Dillon, who led all scorers with 20, De La Salle pulled away from an injury-ravaged Karr team for a 44-33 win.
Karr is playing without injured star center Diamante’ Martinez for at least another eight weeks and potentially all of her junior season. The 6-foot-3 Martinez had 12 double-doubles as a sophomore.
The Cougars were only able to dress six players for Wednesday night’s game.
Dillon said the Cavaliers noticed, and took advantage.
“Coach (Justin Martineau) said, They have six, so we’ve got to play to our tempo. With six players, that’ll get you tired pretty quickly.”
While De La Salle didn’t force the issue with aggressively up-tempo play, their crisp movement on offense created several open shots on the perimeter. Dillon shot 8-of-15 from the field and connected on her only 3-point attempt.
“We’ve been having trouble controlling the tempo, but we executed our offense tonight,” she said. “We were really focusing on executing our offense, because it opens up shots.”
Karr put up a fight in the first quarter, finishing the frame tied 11-11, with Zharian Maxmillion scoring five of her team-high 15 points.
But De La Salle quickly caught on to the Cougars’ strategy of simply feeding Maxmillion the ball in the paint and getting out of her way.
Backup forward Emily Bowman played particularly effective defense against a spin move that Maxmillion attempted nearly every time she got the ball near the basket.
“I knew what she was doing, and I kind of predicted what she was going to do and tried to get there before she did,” Bowman, a first year player said. “I’m pretty quick, so I could get the ball away from her.”
Bowman blocked a shot, took a charge from Maxmillion and hauled in a team-leading seven rebounds.
Dillon said she was impressed by Bowman’s defense on Karr’s biggest offensive threat.
“Being this is Emily’s first year playing basketball, she did a great job containing the post player,” Dillon said. “We double-teamed (Maxmillion) because we knew the ball was going to her every time. Emily did a great job fronting the post and our guards did a great job helping out.”
After creating a 25-18 lead by halftime, De La Salle opened the game up in the third quarter. Dillon scored eight points and Rene Causey barely beat the buzzer with a putback to give the Cavaliers a commanding 37-24 at the end of the period.
Karr Head Coach Jessica Barber revealed after the game that Maxmillion is also hobbled and has been playing on a balky knee.
“Injuries…,” she said exasperatedly. “I’ve never coached under these circumstances.”
For a moment, it looked like Barber might have lost yet another player. On the game’s final play, Karr’s Diamond Kenzie slipped while driving hard toward the goal and was down for several minutes after time expired with an injured ankle.
Barber said the injury did not appear serious.
Dillon said she expects this win could propel the Cavaliers.
“We’re finally getting players back from injuries, so we think we’re ready to start our winning streak,” she said. “The start was pretty disappointing but we’re ready to start playing how we think we’re going to.”