Fouls, turnovers sink Greyhounds

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KEN MORSE Naugatuck’s Amber Kuczenski, 24, drives the lane during the girls basketball game against Ansonia Tuesday night. The lady Hounds fell 47-42 to the Chargers.
NAUGATUCK — Fouls are part of the game of basketball, but when all is said and done they usually even out. That wasn’t the case on Tuesday as the Greyhounds were whistled right out of their own gym.

Naugatuck led Ansonia almost the entire way until late in the fourth period when the referee blew the whistle five times in a span of seven possessions and a 34-29 Naugatuck lead turned into a 41-35 deficit, before the Greyhounds finally fell, 47-42.

The fouls were just about even at the half with Naugatuck being assessed for seven fouls and Ansonia for six infractions. But something went very wrong in the second half as the Hounds were whistled 17 times to only seven for Ansonia.

Naugatuck coach Jodie Ruccio had seen enough and after voicing her displeasure was called for a technical with just 33 seconds left in the game. Ansonia shot 9-of-17 at the line in the final period with Naugatuck hitting on just three of six attempts.

After the game, Ruccio refrained from expressing her displeasure.

“There were a lot of fouls called but that’s not why we lost the game,” Ruccio said. “We lost the game because of the 23 turnovers.”
Naugatuck came out and turned the ball over twice in the first two possessions of the game as Ansonia took advantage and grabbed a quick, 3-0 lead just 48 seconds in. There were three lead changes and the first period ended in an 11-11 tie.

Lauren Piroscafo (17 points, seven rebounds, four assists) scored six of the Greyhounds’ points in the opening period with Stephanie Lima hitting a baseline drive and Michelle Troschler banging home a three.

At the start of the second period Amber Kuczenski and Amy Deitz came on to give Naugatuck a presence in the paint. Carli Pellicia took over at the point and dished an assist to Dietz in the lane for a bucket to open up a 15-11 advantage.

Troschler (12 points, four threes) buried one from behind the arc and Renee Augustine (10 rebounds, four points) put one in off the glass. Naugatuck took a 24-21 lead into the locker room after Piroscafo drilled a three before the buzzer sounded.

“We need to get everyone involved in the scoring, especially the frontcourt,” said Ruccio. “We need to attack the basket and when we don’t do that we struggle to score points like we did in the third period. We can’t become a one-dimensional team and look for Piroscafo every time down the floor.”

The Greyhounds found another threat early in the third period when Brianna Ritter began to dominate under the basket. Ritter had a steal, a rebound and a block in the first three possessions she was in the game.

Naugatuck went through a scoring drought through most of the third, allowing Ansonia to come back and tie the game at 29-29. With the period drawing to a close, Pellicia drove around a defender and down the lane for a pull-up jumper to give the Hounds a 31-29 advantage heading into the final period.

Troschler immediately buried a three to put Naugatuck on top, 34-29. But with 4:45 to play, the foul disparity was Naugatuck being called for 13 in the second half and Ansonia three fouls, helping the Chargers take the lead.

Troschler hit another three and Piroscafo hit both ends of a one-and-one at the line to make it a 43-42 game. But Ansonia finished strong at the line, taking ten free throws in the last minute and a half with Naugatuck being denied that same opportunity.

The 3-7 Greyhounds will be back in action on Friday at Derby to start the second half of the NVL season.