WEIRTON - The Bridgeport Lady Bulldogs outplayed Madonna in all phases of the basketball game Thursday night, especially in the second half, topping the Lady Blue Dons 56-28 at the Bill Barrett Gymnasium.
In remaining unbeaten in four outings, the Bulldogs limited Madonna (1-1) to just seven points in the second half.
The young Lady Dons stayed with Bridgeport in the first half, going to the halftime locker room down only 24-21. However, they were outscored 32-7 in the second half, scoring just one point in the fourth quarter.
ROUGH NIGHT — Madonna’s Becca Holt leads a fast break during Thursday’s home game with Bridgeport, won by the Bulldogs, 56-28. Trailing the play are Madonna’s Katie Lammers and Bridgeport’s Maclaine Murad.
-- Mike Mathison
"The worst thing that happened to us tonight was halftime," said veteran Blue Don coach Don Ogden. "We played a very good team tonight. The credit is theirs. Being a young team sometimes we're going to play well and others we'll make a lot of mistakes and a lot of those mistakes were caused by a very good Bridgeport defense."
Ogden's team, which played well in the opener last Tuesday beating Bishop Donahue, committed 31 turnovers and was out rebounded 39-21.
"Madonna has a quality program," said victorious coach, Rob Zitzelsberger, who has been at the helm of the Lady Bulldogs for the past three years. "Madonna had a powerhouse team with that group of girls they had for four years and I was on the other side of scores like this with them. They're young, but they hung in against us in the first half."
The Blue Dons were down 16-8 after the first quarter, but with freshman Monica Bragg and sophomore Aubrey Platek each scoring four points, they clawed their way back to within one point. That was when sophomore Rachael Grubbs sent a jumper whizzing through the net with 2:33 left in the half to make the score 22-21.
With Madonna in a tight 1-2-2 zone defense, Zitzelsberger had his team hold onto the ball and work the clock down to 11 seconds where talented freshman Caitlyn Kroll found nothing but net on a 12-foot jumper to give the Lady Bulldogs the three-point halftime lead.
"We just told our team at halftime to relax," said Zitzelsberger. "I think holding the ball right before the half gave them a little bit of confidence. I didn't want Madonna to have the lead at the half."
The Lady Blue Dons came out of the locker room with freshman Becca Holt swishing a 10-foot jumper in the lane to get it back to a one-point deficit.
However, junior forward Maclaine Murad ignited an 18-4 run that gave her team a comfortable 42-27 lead heading into the final period.
"It surprised me that we had such a margin in rebounding because they have a tall team," Ziztelsberger continued as he looked at his stat sheet. "Higgey (Brittany Higgenbotham) did a good job inside. She had eight rebounds and Murad had 10."
Kroll, who tickled the twine with three long-range bombs from three-point land, led all scorers with 22 points. Murad backed her up with 12 points and Higgenbotham, one of only two seniors on the team, finished with 10.
Meanwhile Rachael Grubbs got Madonna scoring honors with seven points, while Bragg, who had the only three-pointer for the Dons, and Platek each scored six points.
"Now we have to lick our wounds and get back to work," Ogden explained. "We'll see how we respond. It will be a challenge for us. We'll go back to the drawing board, but the unfortunate thing is we play Bridgeport again in about a week, and we have a couple of tough opponents before that."
The Lady Bulldogs continue on the road, playing their next game at River Monday night. After two games on the home floor, the Blue Dons travel across the Ohio River to play Toronto in the first road game next Monday.
Bridgeport 56, Madonna 28
Bridgepoprt 16 8 18 14 - 56
Madonna 8 13 6 1 - 28
BRIDGEPORT: Smolenak 2 1-6 6, Murad 6 0-0 12, Kroll 8 3-4 22, Benda 1 0-1 2, Higgenbotham 5 0-0 10, Massey 2 0-3 4. Totals: 24 4-14 56. Three-pointers: Kroll (3), Smolensk (1); Rebounds: 39 (Murad, 10); Turnovers: 16.
MADONNA: Dowiak 1 0-0 2, Rosso 1 0-0 2, Platek 3 0-2 6, Davis 1 1-1 3, Bragg 1 3-6 6, L. Grubbs 1 0-0 2, R. Grubbs 3 1-2 7, Holt 0 0-0 0. Totals: 11 5-11 28. Three-pointers: Bragg (1); Rebounds: 21 (Bragg, 6); Turnovers 31.