In basketball when a team really gets on a run it is tough to stop. And sometimes by the time the run is over the deficit is too big to come back from. That's exactly what happened on Monday night in Litchfield, as Campbell went on a 21-0 run in the 3rd quarter. In just a couple of minutes the Cougars went from being down 25-18 to bring up 41-25. Junior guard Hannah Neild had 15 of those 23 points, finishing with a game-high 26 points to go with 8 steals, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Campbell scored a whopping 25 points in the 3rd quarter, and went on to defeat Bishop Brady 57-39.
"We've never gone into halftime down before, so at halftime we picked our heads up and used positive energy" said Neild, a 5-foot-9 combo guard who can hit shots from all over the floor but also defends and passes well. "Everyone worked together better in the 2nd half. We lost to Bow last Tuesday, so we knew we had to give it everything we had tonight."
This was a big game, as both teams had identical 10-1 records coming in. Campbell not only wins but they won by 18, so they have shown that they are possibly THE team to beat in girls Division III.
Brady had a 23-16 lead at halftime. To start the 3rd quarter Campbell guard Kyle Julia (17 points) made a strong drive and then banked in a runner. The Giants answered back though as junior forward Melissa Mallahan broke free underneath for a layup to push the lead back up to 7 at 25-18.
That's when the Campbell run started. The Cougars scored the next 21 consecutive points, and the first 13 of them were by Neild. After playing straight up half court man all game Campbell went to a full court press and it immediately paid off. They got a quick steal in the back court with it, Neild got the ball, went to the rim and got fouled. She made 1 of 2 free throws. Campbell set their press back up, stole the inbounds pass and again Neild got fouled inside. This time she made both FTs. Then Campbell got ANOTHER steal with their press, and again Neild got the ball, went to the rim, got fouled and AGAIN made both foul shots. Sensing a pattern here? You should be. Because on the very next play the Cougars got ANOTHER steal with their press. This time Neild didn't go to the free throw line, she popped out to the left corner to spot up for a 3. Julia dished it over to her, and Neild drilled the 3-pointer - nothing but net. That gave Campbell a 26-25 lead and sent the Cougars' fans into a frenzy.
On the next play Brady was finally able to break the press and get a shot up. But the shot was good and Campbell quickly stormed back the other way with the ball. Neild drove to the rim and hit a leaner along the baseline. Campbell now led 28-25, they were on a 10-0 and Neild had just scored 10 points in 1 minute! Neild wasn't done, as just a minute later she buried another 3-pointer. That made it 31-25 Campbell, a 13-0 run by the Cougars, all 13 points by Neild and all of them coming in just 2 minutes.
"Hannah came into the season and told me she was going to do everything she could to help us win" said Campbell head coach Robert Allen. "And tonight she put us on her back and carried us. It was a program win though, it was all teamwork."
Then Neild made a steal near in the back court which led to Julia getting to line where she made 1 of 2 FTs. On the ensuing inbounds pass Neild stole the ball right under the basket and immediately flipped the ball up and in for a reverse layup. Right after that Julia hit a 3-pointer of her own, then hit a jumper from the foul line. Junior forward Kali Trunca capped the run with a wide open jumper from the elbow. There you have it, 23 straight points for Campbell. Seeing a 23-0 run is rare, and it's even more rare in a game involving 2 teams with identical 10-1 records!
Campbell was now up 41-25 near the end of the 3rd quarter and that would turn out to be too big of a lead for Brady to come back from. Brady finally put an end to the Cougars' run, as junior guard Sarah Thomas hit a pair of foul shots. Then Thomas (team-high 16 points) grabbed a steal near half court and took it hard to the rim on the break for an and-1 finish. It was 41-30 Campbell after 3.
In the 4th quarter Brady was battling hard to try and made a comeback. Neild and Thomas were going at each other hard, and it was fun to watch 2 of the top players in D-III matched up out there (both are only juniors). Neild showed that she can not only score but is also a good passer, by making a nice dish to Julia who got fouled and got to the line.
"We feed off each other" said Neild about Julia. "We've been playing together for 2 years now, and we look for each other on the back door cuts."
Campbell led by double digits for the whole 4th quarter. Brady played hard until the end, but Campbell was making their FTs, they weren't turning it over and Brady just wasn't able to hit shots. The Cougars go on to win 57-39 to improve to 11-1 on the season.
"It was turnover city, we didn't respond well to their pressure" lamented Bishop Brady head coach Aaron Brochu. "They sped the game up, and we started throwing the ball all over the place and throwing it out of bounds. We have 3 of the best ball handlers in the league, we have done a good job of taking care of the ball this season. But for some reason they didn't do it tonight."
Brady led 14-7 after 1 quarter as freshman guard Riley Bennet buried a pair of 3-pointers for the Giants. In the second quarter Neild got going, hitting a jumper from the elbow to cut it to 14-9 Brady. Thomas then made a nice entry pass to the post to Mallahan for a layup. Julia made a nice block inside, but then Mallahan again broke free inside for 2 and it was 18-11 Brady.
Alexandria Trevains had a strong put-back to make it 18-13 Giants. But then Riselly Deoleo connected on a big 3-pointer to push the lead to 23-13. Neild answered right back with a 3 of her own on the very next trip down the floor, and it was 23-16 Brady at halftime.
"We play them again on the last game of the regular season on our senior night" said Coach Brochu. "That now turns into a must win game for us to get a top 4 seed in the tournament."