NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls basketball team survived a cold shooting first half to get by Ansonia, 49-27, last Friday.
Nicole Boucher scored 14 points and pulled down 10 rebounds while Angelina Piccirillo added 12 points, eight rebounds and five steals to lead Naugatuck on Maple Hill School night at the ‘Hound Pound.
Naugatuck secured a 10-4 lead in the first period before the switch turned off. The Greyhounds began to misfire, hitting on only four of 30 shots in the first half and going scoreless for an 8-minute span.
With 1:07 left in the half, Boucher stepped to the line and converted a pair of free throws for Naugatuck’s only points of the second period as the Chargers took an unexpected 17-12 lead at the break.
“Once we got the lead we started to settle for outside shots and they just weren’t falling,” Naugatuck head coach Jodie Ruccio said. “You can’t go 4-of-30 and expect to be in the game. We are much better than a 12-points-in-a-half team. We can’t afford to get into a situation where we go almost an entire period without scoring a point.”
It was a tale of two different teams as Naugatuck came out of the locker room in the third period with a hustle in its step that was not evident in the first half. Piccirillo was on a mission and scored the first eight points of the quarter, including a perfect 4-for-4 from the foul line. That put Naugatuck back on top 21-17 with 4:35 remaining in the period.
“Once Angie found her shot, it opened up our offense,” Ruccio added. “Nicole is still only a sophomore and she is learning a new position. But once she got into the flow it was a different game.”
Taylor Campos (nine points) knocked one down from the corner and Alexandra Mezzo took one down the lane to give the Greyhounds a 29-22 cushion heading into the final period.
“Taylor Campos turned that game around for us,” Ruccio said. “She denied the ball to Ansonia’s best player (Morgan Westine, 10 points) and that was the key. We started to hit some layups, make some steals and we got energized.”
Campos was in Westine’s face the entire second half and the Greyhounds were off to the races, scoring eight baskets off steals. That changed the entire complexion of the game as the Chargers only managed 10 second-half points.
Jackie Aronin and Michaela Pruchnicki turned up the defensive effort while Jessica Case, Andrea Mercer and Christina Jando crashed the boards. Boucher nailed a shot in the corner and Jessica Butler (eight points) hit one in the lane to open up a 33-22 advantage with 7:07 to go.
Campos found nothing but net on a pull-up jumper in front of a defender as Naugatuck continued to pull away with a 40-24 lead. Emma Colucci (five assists) kept finding the open shooter that led to a 9-0 run and a 45-24 advantage with 2:49 left.
“We have a couple of tough games coming up,” Ruccio said, “and if we don’t get our offense going early and struggle like we did in the second period, it could be a long 32 minutes for us.”
The Greyhounds (4-2) made it four in a row Monday night with a 47-36 win against Kennedy on the road. Boucher scored a game-high 19 points to lead Naugatuck. Piccirillo added 13 points and Colucci had 10.
The Greyhounds will play at Wolcott at 7 p.m. on Friday.