Davis sparks strong squad

BY CHARLIE GREEN | JULY 02, 2015 5:00 AM

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Two teams remain unbeaten through three weeks of Game Time action, and a player without yet a single game of college experience leads one of them.

“Anytime you have a point guard like Tania [Davis] leading the show, it gets you confident later in the game,” said Kay DiLeo, the coach of Beat the Bookstore/Westport. “She ran the show for us, and that helps a lot.”

Incoming freshman Davis scored 23 points as her squad notched a 66-53 victory over Joe Johnston’s Vinton Merchants/Culver’s team.

Davis’ smooth shooting touch and quickness shone throughout the first half, and she torched Johnston’s squad with an array of pull-up jumpers in transition — capitalizing off defenders afraid to play her too closely.

But the game slowed down for Davis and Company in the third quarter, and the contest morphed into a defensive struggle. For Vinton, forward Chase Coley’s patrol of the paint along with frontcourt mate Carly Mohns helped keep the group within striking distance of handing Beat the Bookstore its first loss of the summer.

But DiLeo’s squad gave Vinton no easy buckets. Led by a physical effort from Iowa forward Megan Gustafson, the team stifled Johnston’s squad defensively.

Gustafson physically wore down Coley and Mohns on both ends, finishing the game with 17 points and 11 boards. Defensively, her length bothered Vinton all night — Coley was held to just 2 points on 0-of-10 shooting from the field.

Gustafson’s aggressive nature took the wind out of the sails of Johnston’s squad, as she fought viciously for seemingly every rebound and bulled her way into the paint, drawing contact and high-percentage looks from around the rim.

“Coming into college, the physical game comes up so much,” Gustafson said. “Especially when you’re tired in the third or fourth quarter.

“It was a close game there for a while, and I just really wanted to try my best to be as physical as I could.”

With time winding down in the quarter, Davis hit a step-back shot over a taller defender as the clock hit zero to give her team a 48-44 lead.

The shot marked the beginning of the end; Johnston’s fatigued players went on to score just 9 points in the final quarter. They eventually fell behind 66-53, as Davis, et al., showed they belong in the conversation about the best team in the league.

“I think they just jell really well together,” DiLeo said. “They’re playing hard, and when you play hard, good things are going to happen.”

Randy Larson’s Marion Iron, which remained undefeated last night, boasts a core of three players that has made it the toughest out yet in Game Time.

But DiLeo’s group features the core of Davis, Gustafson, and Dartmouth’s Kate Letkewicz — who backed the two Hawkeyes with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Week 3’s results indicate that two teams, Larson’s and DiLeo’s, stand above the rest this summer — and they will meet next week with the league’s top record on the line.

“I think we’re a young team, and we bring a lot of energy,” Letkewicz said. “We don’t get down on each other or on ourselves; we just have a lot of energy and enthusiasm.”

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