SALT LAKE CITY — Jessica Murray picked the right time of the year to get hot.
Having scored in double figures in only five of Emery's first 19 games, lately she's been a lethal shooter and the Spartans are in the 3A semifinals as a result.
Murray buried four 3-pointers Thursday and finished with a game-high 19 points to lead Emery to a surprising 57-50 victory over second-ranked Morgan at the Huntsman Center.
With the win Emery advances to face the Canyon View-Juab winner at 12:50 p.m. on Friday.
"She shot the ball well. She's struggled all year long, but last weekend she hit some big shots in our playoff game, and tonight she was pretty dang deadly," said Emery coach Steven Gordon.
Last weekend Murray buried four 3-pointers and finished with 16 points in a first-round win over Wasatch.
Her last 3-pointer against Morgan was a dagger. She extended Emery's lead to 48-44 with three minutes remaining in the game, and the Trojans never recovered.
Realistically it was a disastrous fourth quarter all around for Morgan. Leading 42-37 after three, Morgan turned it over eight times in the fourth quarter and only made 1 of 10 field goals.
"Our guards got after them a little bit better defensively and applied a little more pressure, and we got some second efforts. Some rebounds," said Gordon.
With Emery leading 52-48 with 52 seconds remaining, Taylor Mann and Tayler Jewkes helped ice the victory by making four straight free throws over the next 20 seconds to officially bury a shocked Morgan team.
Emery's defense on Ashley Garfield, 3A's second-leading scorer, was fantastic all game as she finished with only 10 points on 5 of 13 shooting, and she never got to the free throw line.
"We knew she was the go-to guy there. Every time she flashed high post we tried to bump her two or three times before we got there," said Gordon.4 comments on this story
Emery is back in the semifinals after being bounced in the quarterfinals last year, and Gordon wasn't quite sure this group had it in them after starting the year 0-2 with losses to Carbon and Cedar.
"We played like we'd never played before the first seven or eight games," said Gordon. "I think in years past we've peaked a little early, especially last year and the year before. I think we're really playing basketball at the right time."
Mann, 3A's leading scorer, had a typical big game for the Spartans finish with 19 points while Brooke Jensen chipped in with nine points and 10 rebounds.