Although the Kirkwood High School girls basketball team held off host Marquette in a 49-47 victory on Jan. 8, Coach Monica Tritz was frustrated. Tritz said despite the win, she felt like her squad lost, and the players walked off the court as if they had lost.
Kirkwood led Marquette comfortably 48-37 with two minutes, one second left in regulation and appeared headed for a double-digit victory. Instead, the Mustangs went on a 10-0 run to cut the deficit to 48-47. Backup guard Kate Jozwiakowski, who was fouled with 4.5 seconds remaining, hit one of two free throws to extend the lead to two points. Marquette had one last ditch chance to win or send the game into overtime, and guard Autumn Brown’s shot bounced off the rim to preserve the win.
“We had a lot of turnovers and gave up the ball a lot,” guard Rylee Mulvaney said. “We need to be strong with the ball and have patience.”
In one sequence, Tritz and everyone in the gym saw Mulvaney’s bad inbound pass to guard Natalie Bruns go out of bounds near half court for a turnover with 14.2 seconds left and Kirkwood ahead 48-46. Standing along the sidelines, Tritz looked on in disbelief.
Mulvaney was called with a five-second call with 1:09 remaining and Kirkwood leading 48-43. Kirkwood (10-3) only had one shot possessions down the stretch. The Pioneers hit only 10 of 24 free throws, including five of 16 in the first half.
“We didn’t take care of things,” Tritz said. “It was not about pressure. It was about not caring. You have a team like Marquette that worked so hard and we didn’t. We’re not happy.”
Bruns was in foul trouble throughout the game. She fouled out with 8.1 seconds left and Kirkwood ahead 48-46. Bruns, a team-leading 16.0 scorer, finished with just seven points.
Mulvaney led the way with a career-high 24 points, 16 coming in the second half. She scored nine of those points in the third quarter.
“I felt like I needed to step up,” Mulvaney said.
Tritz said Mulvaney had a good offensive night.
“I was happy to see her shoot a little bit more, but we’ve got to play both sides,” she said.
Tritz said Kirkwood’s success depends on more balanced scoring, and that the team can’t rely on Bruns so much.
“We need to have other people step up and not be afraid,” she said.
Tritz said she may have to make unpopular decisions going forward.
“They have to start performing,” she said. “If not, playing time will decrease.”
Kirkwood’s next game is against Nerinx Hall.
“Where do we go from here?” Tritz said. “We are going to keep preparing like we do, and we’ll figure it out.”