Lady Fighting Tigers can#8217;t match Russell in 68-63 loss

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 3, 2006

FLATWOODS, Ky. — This turned out to be a new version of The Match Game.

Not only was Ironton unable to match the inside power game of Russell, the Lady Fighting Tigers couldn’t match the shooting prowess of the Lady Red Devils in a thrilling 68-63 loss Monday.

Russell’s inside tandem of 5-foot-10 Chinwe Okoro and 6-foot Christen Daniels combined for 40 points on 16 for 19 shooting.

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The duo also converted on all eight of their foul shots. Okoro had 10 rebounds.

The inside game helped Russell shoot 21 of 34 from the field for 62 percent.

“We had a hard time matching up with their inside game. Not only do they have height, but they’re big, strong bodies who have a nice touch on the ball,” Ironton coach Amy Hughes said.

Also in double figures for Russell was 6-1 Jessica Fortman with 18 points including 12 of 15 from the foul line.

Overall, Russell (10-4) was 88.5 percent from the foul line on 23 for 26 shooting. The Lady Devils were 17 of 18 from the line in the fourth quarter.

“We shot the ball pretty good, but they shot the lights out,” Hughes said. “I thought we played hard and we never quit.”

Ironton, losing for the first time in 13 games, shot 40.4 from the field (23 for 57) and 15 of 20 from the line that included two intentional misses late in the game.

Jessica Waddle had her best offensive game of the season for Ironton with 26 points to go with six rebounds. Mandi Boykin had 14 points, six assists and four steals.

Danielle Henderson got 11 points, Sara Hacker scored 10 points and Ciara Taylor pulled down seven rebounds.

The game was tied five times and there were six lead changes.

However, Ironton’s last lead was 26-25 with 3:13 left in the first half and the last time was 43-43 at the end of the third quarter.

Russell was up 14-11 late in the first quarter when Boykin hit a 12-footer, Henderson hit from the baseline and Waddle sank two foul shots for a 17-14 lead.

A three-point play by 6-foot Stephanie Menshouse to end the quarter tied the game at 17-17.

Ironton took its biggest lead of the game at 23-17 on two foul shots by Waddle, a steal by Boykin and layup by Waddle and another layup by Boykin with 6:34 left in the second quarter.

Russell came back to take a 25-23 lead on a putback by Fortman.

Henderson’s three-point play put Ironton up for the last time. Okoro’s 15-footer with for seconds left gave Russell a 27-26 halftime edge.

The Lady Red Devils held the lead throughout most of the third quarter until a three-point play by Hacker tied the game at 41-41. Daniels and Boykin traded baskets and it was 43-43 heading into the fourth quarter.

Russell led by as many as six points midway through the fourth quarter only to have Ironton cut the deficit to 55-53 on a layup by Henderson with 2:53 to play.

But Russell sank nine straight foul shots over the final 2:26, two by Fortman with six-tenths of a second left on the clock.

Ironton was hampered from the start of the game with the loss of a top reserve. Mercedes Crockrel injured her wrist in the junior varsity game and did not dress.

Also, Hacker picked up two quick foul in the first quarter and was replaced by Rachel Walker. The 5-11 junior suffered an ankle injury at the end of the quarter and did not return.