“We came out and wanted to get a big lead early, so to get those was amazing,” Givens said. “I think they helped out a lot even though they were early in the game. It’s pretty bright in [Hulman Center], but once I got the feel for it, I was able to go out and do what I did.”
Western (23-3) attempted to force the game into a more comfortable pace in the second quarter, but cooled off from the floor, hitting on just 1 of 6 field goal attempts over the next eight minutes. Western’s 2-3 zone on the other end helped dictate the pace despite the lack of offensive production, but Mater Dei was able to pull even at 21-21 by halftime.
The Panthers defense put forth a performance for the ages in the second half. Their zone collapsed the middle while seemingly forcing every perimeter shot the Wildcats let go to be taken under duress.
Mater Dei struggled mightily as a result, hitting on just 3 of 24 shots from the field in the second half. The Wildcats’ Maura Muensterman, a Miss Basketball candidate and Indiana Universtity recruit, entered Saturday averaging 22 ppg on the season while hitting at a 55-percent clip from the field. She struggled to the tune of a 3-for-13 performance in the game and finished with a team-high 12 points.
“With the lack of 2-3 that they’d seen, I thought we had a chance to be effective in it as a result,” Keisling said. “I told the girls ‘In my opinion, you run the best 2-3 zone in the state, hands down.’ And I thought it’d be hard for them to make adjustments because they hadn’t seen it.”
Even so, Mater Dei (26-2) wouldn’t go away. With Western grinding the game to a snail’s pace in the third quarter, the Wildcats went to a run-and-jump, half-court trap that left Panther ball-handlers scurrying between the timeline and the top of the key to avoid the pressure and milk time.