By KEVIN HARRIS
LOUISVILLE – The Indiana Star Girls let a 15-point lead slip away in the fourth quarter in the 20th annual Battle of the Bridges on Saturday at MidAmerica Sports Center and lost to Kentucky 67-62. In the final quarter, the Bluegrass Stars outscored the Hoosier Stars 31-13.
Kentucky turned up the heat in its full-court press defense, forcing Indiana into several turnovers in the fourth period. As a result, the Bluegrass Stars converted those miscues into points to spearhead their comeback.
“We just weren’t making the smart passes. We wanted to dribble through (the press) instead of moving the ball,” said Indiana head coach Keith Phillips, who also was the sideline boss for the Indiana Star Boys team. “You’ve got to understand situations. The ball can’t stop. You can’t dribble through a press every single time. You have to move the basketball for the best shot.”
In the opening stages of the fourth, Jeffersonville senior Jaylynn Brown hit two free throws to put Indiana up 51-36. But Kentucky went on an 11-0 run to cut its deficit to 51-47 with 4:58 left in regulation.
With Indiana up 54-50, the Hoosier Stars scored four straight points to increase their lead to eight.
Kentucky, though, did not go away. The Bluegrass Stars went on another 11-0 spurt to take a 61-58 advantage with less than two minutes left. Kentucky grabbed the lead for good at 59-58 when Louisville Male senior Ciaja Harbison hit two free throws at the 2:16 mark.
Mishawaka senior Meghan Urbanski nailed two foul shots with 1:46 remaining to pull Indiana within 61-60. But Kentucky responded with six unanswered points to go up 67-60 with 38.1 seconds left.
Leading 17-12, the Hoosier Stars went on a 10-2 run in the second quarter to go up 27-14 late in the stanza. At the 4:13 mark, Indiana upped its lead to 38-24 when Jeff senior guard Jacinta Gibson put her own missed shot back into the bucket.
Late in the third, the Hoosier Stars claimed a 47-32 lead thanks to a pair of free throws by Castle senior Jalaya Dowell.
“We were sharing the ball and we were moving it. We were making smart decisions, good passes and not turning it over,” Phillips said. “But then they started pressing us and we lost our minds. We kind of got on our heels and backed down from it.”
Brown and Urbanski each paced Indiana in scoring with 13 points. Urbanski, who was named the Indiana Team MVP, scored 11 of her 13 points in the second half. Dowell had eight points and Heritage Christian senior Hadassah Harris added seven.
George Rogers Clark senior Sha’maya Behanan captured the Kentucky Team MVP award with a game-high 14 points. Eleven of her 14 points came in the fourth quarter.
Louisville Manual’s Tyonne Howard had 11 points with seven coming in the final stanza. Harbison chipped in 10 points. Also for Kentucky, Manual senior A’Niah Griffin tallied nine points and Louisville Central junior Darian Neal scored eight.
BATTLE OF THE BRIDGES
STAR GIRLS GAME
KENTUCKY 67, INDIANA 62
Kentucky 8 10 18 31-67
Indiana 11 17 21 13-62
Kentucky: Sha’maya Behanan 14, Tyonne Howard 11, Ciaja Harbison 10, A’Niah Griffin 9, Darian Neal 8, Cameron Browning 5, Joelle Johnson 4, Jaida Wiggins 4, Maleaha Bell 2, Alexis Smith 0.
Indiana: Jaylynn Brown 13, Meghan Urbanski 13, Jalaya Dowell 8, Hadassah Harris 7, Hannah Wolford 5, Jacinta Gibson 4, Rachel Stewart 4, Kelsey Taylor 4, Julyen Condra 2, Sophia Kreag 2, Ryann Bunting 0.3-point field goals: Kentucky 3 (Griffin 1, Howard 1, Neal 1); Indiana 2 (Urbanski 1, Wolford 1).