CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Khadijah Lee and the rest of her Capital teammates are finally beginning to settle into the season.The senior turned in an all-around floor game with 14 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and seven steals as the host Cougars ran past Hurricane in the second half, winning 62-26. A crowd of about 100 attended the Class AAA Mountain State Athletic Conference matchup.Keke Walker led Capital (4-3) in scoring with 16 points, hitting four straight 3-pointers and five baskets in a row in the fourth quarter to help fuel a 27-0 game-ending run to blast open a 35-26 game. Walker made 6 of 15 shots, 4 of 7 from 3-point range.Senior Katie Crowder contributed nine points, nine boards, three assists and one steal while 6-foot-2 sophomore Dashia Foster added eight points, eight boards and three blocks.After Brooke Crompton's hook shot cut the Redskins' deficit to two points (21-19) about one minute into the third quarter, Capital scored nine straight off defensive pressure for a 30-19 advantage with two minutes to go in the period."We really and truly challenged them at halftime and told [our players] the first 31/2 or four minutes of the quarter were going to be crucial,'' said Capital coach B.J. Calabrese. "They're capable of playing defense like that, but we've gone through the last three games where we get really silly. We've gotten smarter."I'm really proud of the defensive effort. We only gave up nine points in the second half and I thought we shared the ball a lot better.''The Cougars, who forced 16 of the Redskins' 22 turnovers in the second half, outscored Hurricane 41-7 from Crompton's basket until the end of the game."We just came together as a team and broke out in the second half,'' said Lee, who scored five points after halftime but was nearly everywhere on the floor.
"[It was] the team's defense. We just motivate our team to keep going. If somebody blows past you just yell and we help each other when we're down. We're just doing what we've been doing in practice.''After opening the season with 27 points in a 62-52 win at Hurricane, Lee sat out the next two games because of disciplinary reasons. Since she returned, the Cougars own a 2-2 mark, but have lost by two points each to South Charleston and Winfield."That kind of hurt me,'' said Lee of missing letting her team down. "I was just losing my head and I had to get it back together. This is my senior year. My team was like, 'We need you.' When I came back it just felt great. My team welcomed me like I never left and that made us break through in some games.''"Her defense and overall hustle has been outstanding,'' Calabrese said. "She really started it in the summer and fall. She's a nonstop bundle of energy for us and we need that. People feed off her and it's kind of contagious and everybody wants to do it. That helps us get steals and layups.''It has been a tough couple of games for Hurricane (4-4), which was hoping to rebound from a 55-29 loss at two-win Point Pleasant on Saturday. The Redskins made just 10 percent of their shots (5 of 50) Monday, including a 2-of-17 effort on 3-pointers.Junior guard Abby Watson, who was the second-leading scorer in the MSAC at 23.2 points per game entering this week, tallied just 11 points on 2-of-14 accuracy but did contribute eight rebounds and three steals. Watson was the only Redskin to score in double figures.
"We attacked the basket great in the first half and we stopped that in the second half,'' said Hurricane assistant coach Austin Lowe, who is helping wife and first-year head coach Natasha Lowe. "[Capital] got some fast-break transition on us and we got behind. We started rushing."They played a box-and-one and took Abby out of the game. Until we learn to attack the zone and get better movement, it isn't going to get any better. The last three games it's all been whenever [opponents] play a box-and-one or a 1-3 with a chaser. We've got to get better at shooting and making shots from the block. Good things can happen from there.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.