Sandusky was completely out of sync for 17 minutes.
Then, Azyah Smith-Crager stepped up, hitting back-to-back treys to start a 12-0 run that propelled the Streaks to a 48-30 non-conference victory over Perkins on Wednesday.
“I told the ladies that we had to come out and get some quick scores in the third quarter, and I think that’s exactly what happened,” said Sandusky coach Richard Koonce. “We got four quick buckets and that kind of flipped it.”
Things didn’t look good for the Streaks as the third quarter began. They missed all 11 treys they attempted in the first half, trailed by a 16-11 margin at the intermission, and watched Ariana Burrows open the second half with a trey to push the Perkins lead to 19-11.
Once Smith-Crager found the range, her twin sister Aschele followed with a bucket, Dorresha Green buried a pair of free throws, Deja Johnson added a bucket to give Sandusky a 23-19 lead.
Sandusky (8-7) kept the pressure on in the fourth, reeling off a 17-2 spurt to put the game away. Along with finding the range offensively, Sandusky picked up the intensity on defense, forcing Perkins into nine turnovers in the third quarter and seven more in the fourth.
“Our style of play is really all about defensive intensity,” Koonce said. “I told the ladies that I didn’t think we were even scratching the surface with what we have to offer on defense. I told them we’ve really been getting buy without playing hardcore defense and that we couldn’t afford to be that way anymore.
“I told them if they want to go home early come tournament time, then don’t play intense defense. We want to get to the point where we are playing intense defense always and I think we did that in the third and fourth quarter.”
Azyah Smith-Crager finished with 12 points and a team-high six rebounds to lead the Streaks, with Green scoring 11, Aschele Smith-Crager chipping in nine and TaShanna Jeffries adding eight.
“I was pleased with their performance, their focus and their attitude,” Koonce said. “They were on their home court and they picked it up.
“This year is like being in the classroom and playing ball at the same time. We’re trying to build our basketball IQ and build the idea that they are not just playing a game but it’s also about know what we want to do and get it done.”
Emily Wagner had a game-high 16 points and nine rebounds for the Pirates (6-10).
“I really have no comment on my own team’s play, but congratulations to Sandusky for coming out and getting after it in the second half,” said Perkins coach Ray Neill. “They just did what they had to do to win a basketball game.”