SALT LAKE CITY — Judge Memorial forward Sydney Richards was having trouble boxing out, hanging onto rebounds and getting her shots to fall in the first quarter of a critical region game against Wasatch on Tuesday night.
"I would say that I did not feel great in that first quarter," said Richards, who finished with 10 points in Judge's 52-49 overtime win against the Wasps. "I wanted to be there for my teammates, so I knew I had to pick it up."
No better way to bust out of a slump than to hit a big shot.
Richards knocked down a 3-point shot with two minutes left in the second quarter that was part of the Bulldogs' rally to get back into the game.
"I've been injured a lot of the season and so I have had a lot of time to practice 3s," said Richards, who's only played about eight games this season because of an ankle injury. "It's been frustrating. … But most people don't expect (3s) from me."
Not only did Richards' 3-point shot come at a critical time for the Bulldogs, it helped swing momentum in favor of the home team. The first quarter belonged to the Wasps, as they jumped out to a lead which they didn't relinquish until the fourth quarter.
"They owned us in the first quarter," said Judge head coach Matt Mapstone. "They owned us last game. But in the timeouts, we challenge (the Judge players). I just told them, 'We're fine. We need to do a few things that we're not.' "
Like rebounding and helping each other on defense.
"This is a terrible matchup for us," said Mapstone of the Wasps. "They're long and physical. I just told the girls, 'You've got to find a way to get rebounds.' "
The Bulldogs rose to the challenge, led by Richards and sophomore Julia Wheatly, who also scored 10 points. Every player was scrambling for rebounds, and the Wasps forced the Bulldogs to fight for everything they wanted — whether it was a rebound or a loose ball.
"They did a wonderful job (of helping on defense) in the overtime," he said. "And I don't think they got a second shot in the overtime. I was also proud of how poised they were in running some time off the clock near the end of the game."
The Bulldogs fell behind, but managed to gain steam behind a rally led by senior guard Kailie Quinn, who led all scorers with 16 points.
Quinn hit three 3-point shots, two of those in that critical second-quarter rally. Judge managed to close the gap to 23-25 by halftime.
"I wanted this game so bad," said Quinn with a grin. "I wanted to get back at Wasatch (for an earlier loss) and we actually put up a fight this time."
Wasatch was led by Rebecca Mawhinney, who scored 16 points, and Paige Kohler, who added 15. The Wasps traded baskets with the Bulldogs, including a few 3s. But Wasatch managed to get to the foul line more often, which helped them hang onto the lead until the final few minutes of regulation.
That's when the game became a nail-biter. With the tame tied at 40 each, Richards grabbed a critical offensive board and put it back for a two-point lead. The Bulldogs held onto that until Arlynn Robinson hit a bucket at the buzzer to send the game into overtime tied at 42-42.
The Bulldogs pulled ahead on a bucket from Donna Sansone, who was fouled and made the free throw for a 45-42 lead.
"It wasn't my best game, but making that last-second shot made my heart proud," said Richards. "It definitely felt good to win this one."