Strong Second Half Propels Bridgeport to Win

BRIDGEPORT — It was a tale of two halves Monday evening inside the John J. Havlicek Gymnasium.

Invading Barnesville carried a 10-point lead into the half and had just held Bridgeport to three points in the second quarter.

To hear Bulldogs coach Greg Harkness tell it, there wasn’t any truly inspirational message delivered at half that led to the turnaround.

Quite simply, his team just played harder. And the end result — a 48-34 victory — proves that to be quite true.

“We wanted to come out and play with more energy and effort,” Harkness said. “We struggled to score the ball in the first half and it’s funny that when you see the ball go through the net a couple of times, your defense and everything picks up.”

Harkness’ analysis was spot on, too.

The Bulldogs (6-13) came out of the half and scored the first eight points. Not only did that shave the deficit down to two, but it allowed them to speed the tempo up, which Barnesville (6-11) was able to dictate in the first half.

“We were able to get into the open court,” Harkness said. “When we were in a funk offensively, it allowed them to settle into their half-court defense and with (Dulcie) Christman in the middle, it’s not easy to score.”

The Bulldogs were able to get the offense going thanks to getting to the foul line. During the decisive third quarter in which they outscored the Shamrocks, 21-5, Bridgeport knocked down 12 of 16 from the foul line, which is more than double what the visitors shot in the contest.

On top of their work at the line, Lauren Neer knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and Jaren Tucker came off the bench to drain a trey.

“I told the girls (in the locker room) that they got outworked,” Barnesville coach Jamie Carpenter lamented. “We were totally, totally outworked. They owned us on the boards because they wanted it. Period. We got outworked because I think we’re evenly matched with that team, maybe even better in certain positions, but not (Monday).”

Bridgeport didn’t stop its run in the third. Neer opened the fourth with her fourth 3-pointer and senior Marissa Beal, who was held to one field goal in the first half, got going, scoring eight of her 16 in the the final period.

All told, the Shamrocks were outscored, 27-5, during the opening 11-plus minutes of the second half.

“We talked at halftime about how the first three minutes (of the third) were going to be important and we needed to continue to build on the lead,” Carpenter said. “But, they got a quick five points to start the third and it just snowballed from there.”

Beal’s scoring was complemented by Neer’s 14. Senior Kamden Dulesky scored nine points and collected a like number of rebounds. Shelby Matheny drew high praise from her coach for the work she provided in the paint.

Barnesville was led by Sarah Powell’s 15. Senior Dulcie Christman was solid on the interior with 12 points, eight boards and three blocked shots.