MILFORD – Jazmen Moore scored a 3-point shot with less than a minute left, and Shannon Mosby added two free throws as Caroline held off a tenacious Essex team to take a 59-56 victory in the Caroline Christmas Tournament Thursday night.
Clinging to a 1-point lead, Moore came through with her second trey of the night with 53 seconds left after Mosby had penetrated the lane for a jump shot that rimmed in and out. The 3-pointer by Moore lifted the Lady Cavaliers to a 57-53 lead.
After both teams missed the front end of one-and-one opportunities, Jaelah Rivers made a basket for Essex to pull the Lady Trojans within 57-55 with 20 seconds to play. Dionshe Nelson stole the ball on the ensuing possession by Caroline and drew a foul, and she made one of two shots to bring Essex to 57-56 with 11 seconds left.
The Lady Trojans were forced to foul on Caroline’s next possession, and Mosby went to the line and made both shots with less than 2 seconds left. Essex was unable to get off a shot before time expired.
In a night when poor shooting plagued Caroline, junior Bo Hayes paced the team with 26 points and a team-high 17 rebounds. Hayes scored numerous baskets in the paint after an offensive rebound or being fed at her low post position. She was 10-21 from the field and 6-9 from the foul line.
Moore added 10 points for Caroline – she was only 1-7 from 2-point range but 2-5 from the 3-point circle – and freshman Hope Toliver added 10 points. Caroline shot only 30 percent from the field.
Mosby was a perfect 4-4 from the foul line and led the team with five steals and five assists while Toliver and fellow freshman Jayla McNeil both chipped in six rebounds and led the team with two blocks apiece.
Caroline advanced to play John Marshall, which defeated Chancellor 57-45 in the second tourney game, while Essex will meet Chancellor in the consolation game; the final games are tonight.
Caroline coach Tim Marshall said afterward he was glad the game was over. It was the third meeting of the teams, but Caroline defeated Essex by double-digit margins in the earlier games.
“Their team has gotten better,” noted Marshall, whose team improved to 6-2 overall. “It all goes to the coach,” he added, referring to Essex coach Shavohn Curley.
“Our team has had to build that cohesiveness,” said Curley. “We’ve done a lot of team-building activities,” she added.
The Lady Trojans missed some easy layups, particularly from the post players, noted Curley. “I feel like as a team we should have scored more.”
Most of the Essex scoring came from Zenya Butler and Vickie Boone. Butler scored a game-high 27 points, and Boone added 18 points for the Lady Trojans, who slipped to 5-5 overall. Both players made a pair of 3-point shots.
“Our post players really came through,” said Marshall, because the team’s outside shooting was off.
“We gave up too much,” added Marshall. “Our defense was a step off.”
Caroline had a 42-41 edge at the start of the final quarter. After Butler made a pair of free throws to give Essex a 43-42 lead, Hayes made a layup after snagging an offensive rebound, Mosby sank two free throws, and Toliver scored inside on an assist from Moore to give Caroline its biggest lead of the quarter, 48-43.
A layup by Nelson at 2:30 and then a free throw by Butler enabled Essex to tie the score at 52-52 with 2:19 left, but another bucket by Hayes underneath put Caroline back out front, 54-52, at 1:42.
The biggest lead Caroline held after any quarter was 3 points, 27-24 at the end of intermission.
The Lady Cavaliers scored 5 unanswered points at the start of the third period to take their biggest lead of the night, 8 points. Hayes made one of two throws after a technical foul on Essex for having six players on the floor, and Toliver followed with two consecutive baskets. Toliver’s offensive rebound and layup gave Caroline a 32-24 lead at 6:58.
Boone tied the game twice with back-to-back 3-pointers later in the third quarter. Her first tied the score at 36-36, and her second made it 39-39 with 1:45 left.
Caroline led 10-9 after one quarter. In the second quarter, the teams tied three times and swapped the lead twice in the final 3:25.