NORWALK, Conn. Norwalk High Schools girls basketball team needed a victory to cement its standing as a playoff contender. And the Bears did just that as it played on the road against one of the top teams in the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference and with one of its top players in foul trouble throughout the game.
Erica Cohens scored 21 points and Norwalk got contributions from its entire team to stun St. Joseph, 50-39, on Tuesday in Trumbull. The Bears improved to 10-5 overall and 8-5 in the conference, while the Cadets slipped to 12-3, 10-2.
Im not worried about sending statements to other teams, coach Ricky Fuller said after the Bears pulled away down the stretch. Im just trying to get into the top eight. Other teams can take from it what they want.
Norwalk won despite limited production from junior center Emma Oyomba, who sat out significant chunks of the game with foul trouble. Coming off a 33-point, 31-rebound effort in Fridays win over New Canaan, she had four points, 10 rebounds and three blocks against St. Joseph.
But her teammates picked up the slack. Alexis Noonan scored nine points, all in the first half, and grabbed nine rebounds. Freshman Denisha Gardener added six points and nine rebounds. And Cohens was all over the floor, scoring 22 points, getting three steals and handling the ball against St. Josephs pressure.
Were a team, Fuller said. A lot of other players picked up the slack tonight. Emmas going to have an off night every once in a while.
Senior Shayna Marko scored Norwalks most important basket early in the fourth quarter. St. Joseph erased Norwalks 23-15 halftime lead and tied the contest at 31 on a three-pointer by Jessica Jowdy with 7:35 to play. Marko answered with a three-pointer 23 seconds later to put the Bears ahead to stay.
Shayna hasnt gotten that much time, Fuller said. She was ice cold. And she came in and knocked down the jumper. They could have gotten momentum. Thats what this team is all about. That was the biggest play of the night.
Oyomba picked up her third foul with 3:36 to play in the first half. St. Joseph went up 13-12 on Jowdys three-pointer with 3:10 remaining. But Gardner and Cohens combined for eight points and Noonan hit a three-pointer as Norwalk closed the half on an 11-2 run.
St. Joseph turned up the intensity in the second half, but each time Norwalk had an answer. The lead wasnt safe until Katie Schmidt hit two free throws with 1:22 left to give the Bears a 45-39 advantage. Cohens scored four points in the final 62 seconds to keep the Cadets at bay.
St. Joseph has a history of excellence, Fuller said. Were trying to be mentioned in the same breath as the teams like Trinity Catholic and Trumbull and St. Joseph. Those guys produce great teams. For our girls to win this tonight shows what theyre capable of doing.
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