NAUGATUCK — The Naugatuck girls closed out the first half of the Naugatuck Valley League season with a convincing, 67-42 win over Derby Tuesday, improving to 4-6. The Greyhounds used a potent outside shooting attack, blistering the nets with seven three-pointers.
That helped them to pull away in the second period, when they hung up 21 points on the scoreboard; Derby answered with only nine. A 14-12 nail-bitter in the opening period quickly became a commanding, 35-21 advantage at the break.
The Red Raiders battled back and cut their deficit to 12 in the third period. But Naugy turned it on in the final period with a 20-7 outburst to rack up its highest point total of the season.
Jessica Webber led the Greyhounds, throwing down 27 points and dishing out 10 assists. Julia Longo fired away for 17 points, including nine from behind the arc, and Danielle Charette added nine points with six rebounds.
Kristen Myers came off the bench and sparked the second-period burst, knocking down a pair of threes and contributed three steals and three assists.
“Kristen really gave us a big lift off the bench,” Ruccio said. “She has really been coming on in practice, and we told her to stay ready. When the time came, she delivered. Renee also has been doing well under the boards for us, but we need more than one or two players helping our underneath.”
The Raiders controlled the boards in the opening period, and that’s what kept them in the game. They were getting three and four looks at the basket, thanks to a 13-5 advantage in rebounds.
Charette (one block) and Renee Augustine (six rebounds, two blocks) played hard-nosed defense under the basket, but Derby was winning.
“We are playing our best basketball at this point,” Naugatuck head coach Jodie Ruccio said. “We are shooting the ball real well. We are playing good defense, and we are running our plays very consistently.
“Rebounding is still an issue and until someone has had enough and starts battling on the boards, it will continue to be a problem for us.”
Alexis Granahan came up with a steal and made the ensuing foul shot to open up a 7-2 advantage. When Longo buried a three from the corner, it was a 14-7 lead with 1:59 left.
Derby closed the gap when Mary Hyde (24 points) hit a runner in the lane and Jenna Cripps (nine points) hit a three to end the period, with Naugy clinging to a 14-12 lead.
Myers came on, and the Greyhounds shifted gears. The senior guard buried a pair of threes, and the Hounds were off and running. Webber and Longo fired treys and by the time Derby scored its first basket of the period, the Greyhounds were safely out in front, 33-19.
Naugatuck came out in the second half and scored three quick baskets to open up a 20-point lead. Derby fought back, with Hyde delivering 10 points in the third period to bring the Red Raiders within striking distance, trailing, 47-35, heading into the final period.
Melissa Miller and Amber Kuczenski came on to lend a hand under the boards. Lauren Piroscafo put pressure on the ball, and the renewed defensive effort held Derby to just two points over a five-minute span.
At the 2:50 mark, Charette drove the lane, and the lead was out to 61-37, as this game was headed for the win column. Michelle Trochsler put the finishing touches on the win, knocking down the Greyhounds’ seventh three-pointer of the game for the 67-42 margin.
“Obviously, we would have liked to be better than 4-6 at this point,” Ruccio said. “But I’ve seen improvement, and I feel we can have a much better second half of the season.”
Naugatuck is back in action Friday at Torrington and will host Sacred Heart next Wednesday to kick off the second half of the NVL season.