By RICK THORP
For the Intelligencer
BELLAIRE - St. John had two things play into its favor Monday night - a solid defense and a heady point guard.
Both figured heavily at a key point in the Irish's 49-34 victory against Bishop Donahue at St. John Central High School.
Trailing by as much as 16 in the second quarter, the Bishops clawed back to within five at 31-26 when Shannon Barrows canned a jumper with 3:17 remaining in the third period. That's when St. John's defense and Marissa Rose stepped it up a notch.
Rose scored all nine points in a 9-1 Irish spurt as St. John built a comfortable 40-27 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
''We had built a little bit of momentum there,'' Bishop Donahue coach Don Gillis said. ''We made a shot here, got a steal there that kind of got us back in it and electrified us.
''But, then Miss Rose took over. She's phenomenal. I think she had 36 points or something.''
Rose actually finished with 32 points. But for Gillis and his team it seemed like the sophomore was anywhere and everywhere.
''We didn't have an answer for her,'' Gillis said. ''She's tough.''
St. John coach Bubba Kapral agreed. Though, on this night, he thought his team's defensive prowess played an equally important role in a second straight victory.
''We played really great half-court defense and Gabby (Santinoceto) did a great job on their point guard,'' he said. ''Their point guard is a nice player and Jewel (Purpura) is a nice player. We knew we'd have to take away one of those and Gabby did that.''
St. John's run to end the third helped the Irish pull away, but the one to end the first set the tone.
Trailing 7-4, St. John (3-4) went on a 15-0 binge that made the score 19-7 early in the second period. Lindsey Froehlich capped the run with a three-point play. She finished with 11 points.
Moments later, Rose got two more baskets - the final one a 3 - and St. John went ahead 27-11.
St. John's defense was spurring its offense. The fact Bishop Donahue (1-3) couldn't get anything to drop offensively helped.
''We've been having trouble all year, even last year and the year before about finishing and making shots,'' Gillis said. ''We've tried many different drills. We're just struggling to do that. It's everyone.''
Meanwhile, while Rose has helped pick up some of the slack for a team playing without its injured starting point guard - Jessica Alvey - Kapral wants to see more balance scoringwise.
''Marissa will score, but we have to get some other people involved,'' he said.
Kapral was pleased with Froehlich's effort down low.
''We like to think we can post her up against most teams,'' Kapral said. ''If she can score inside, that makes life a lot easier for Marissa outside.''
Bishop Donahue got as close as nine during the fourth, but a 6-0 run by the Irish put things out of reach.
Neither team hit a field goal during the final period. St. John was 9 of 12 from the line, with Bishop Donahue 7 of 14.
''It's a nice win,''Kapral said. ''I think Bishop Donahue is pretty good.''