Truman girls basketball coach Steve Cassity knew he was going to have a tough challenge in St. Thomas Aquinas Thursday.
Patriots junior forward Jewel Hart reaggravated her left knee injury and that narrowed Cassity’s rotation to six players. That left just Truman 6-foot-2 forward Rosie Braley and five guards to combat the Saints from Overland Park. Aquinas had a lot of length on the floor in the semifinals of the Truman Tournament and they used that to their advantage in a 50-29 win over the Patriots.
With the loss, Truman will play at 5:30 p.m. Friday in the third-place game against Columbia Rock Bridge, which lost 55-48 to Liberty.
The Saints’ length allowed them to outrebound Truman 26-15, including an 11-3 advantage on the offensive glass. They also made things tough for a Patriots team that has struggled on offense lately. Aquinas held Truman to just 8-for-23 (35 percent) shooting from the field and forced 13 turnovers. The Patriots came in averaging 44 points in their last six contests.
“It made it hard to drive or possess the ball because of their length,” Cassity said. “It makes offense difficult. We got into some foul trouble, and that hurt us some, too.
“They got us sped up early, then we settled in later on. There were points where we had too many empty possessions.”
Truman made just four field goals in the first half but still managed to keep it close because of some good defense of its own. Senior Becca Gilpin scored all five of the Patriots’ first-quarter points as they trailed 11-5 going into the second quarter.
Aquinas hit a trio of 3-pointers in the first period, but the Patriots didn’t allow any in the second. Junior guard Deon Monroe’s seven-point period helped Truman narrow the gap to 18-15 at halftime.
Aquinas opened the third quarter with a 9-0 run that made it 27-15. The Saints dominated the offensive boards and hit three 3-pointers in the period to go into the fourth up 36-24.
The Saints solved Truman’s zone defense and connected on another trio of 3-pointers in the fourth, finishing 9 of 21 (43 percent) from behind the arc.
“We tried controlling the post, but when they started hitting threes that presented a problem,” Cassity said. “We couldn’t take away both.”
Monroe led Truman with 13 points and Gilpin had 11. Molly Hartnett had a game-high 15 points to lead Aquinas, which meets Liberty in today’s 7 p.m. championship game.