By Doug Bonjour

For as long as Staples girls basketball head coach Ed Huydic can remember, a defensive, hard-nosed style of play has been synonymous with FCIAC counterpart Brien McMahon. So before the two teams squared off again on Tuesday, Huydic, who has amassed over 400 career victories in 30 seasons at Staples, tried to best groom his team for that approach.

"We try to prepare in practice for a game like this, because I know what McMahon likes to do. Things haven't changed in 15 years," said Huydic. "It's more of the same and it can get you."

The defensive-minded style frustrated and slowed down the Wreckers at times, but it didn't keep them from fending off cold-shooting McMahon. The Wreckers overcame 13 turnovers and with some clutch perimeter shooting in the second half, outscored the Senators 25-14 to pull away for 48-31 road victory.

"We got caught up in the mania of the moment. It affected our shooting, our judgment--particularly in the first half and in spurts in the third quarter as well. But in the end, some good patience, some three-ball shooting and execution from underneath carried the day," said Huydic, whose team improved to 5-3. "We have to learn from this experience. No one's going home completely satisfied."

The Senators disrupted Staples' up-tempo offense early with a ball-hawking full-court press. The lead changed hands five times over the first eight minutes--the teams ended the first quarter tied 8-8--and neither team scored over the first two-plus minutes of the second quarter. But once the shots finally started falling for Staples, the Senators had no answer.

After Staples' Erica Stein nailed a 3-pointer with 5:45 remaining in the second quarter, putting her team ahead 11-8, the Wreckers closed the half on a 12-9 run and never again relinquished the lead. The Wreckers led by as many as 19 points in the second half.

While defense remained a constant for McMahon--guard Kiara Goodwin recorded a game-high seven steals, while teammate Billi Jo Tomlin led the team with eight rebounds--the Senators (2-6) never found their shooting stroke. They scored just seven points in the fourth quarter and have now been held under 50 points in all but one game (55-42 win over Harding on Dec. 10) this season.

"We play the way we play. The frustrating part is, we can't put the ball in the basket. And while we're not putting the ball in the basket, our opponents are. That's the frustrating part," said McMahon head coach Mark McElveen, whose team has lost five straight. "We've got to find some way to score."

Goodwin and forward Rachel Sawyer each scored six points to lead McMahon, while Tomlin added five points.

Despite fashioning a back-and-forth, up-tempo attack on offense, the Senators struggled to find points in the point, especially against Staples center Nicole Brill (10 points). Brill, a third-team all-FCIAC selection last year, grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds and added two blocked shots.

The Wreakers weaved through McMahon's full-court press during the fourth quarter, outscoring the Senators 14-7.

"They did a good job breaking the pressure. They moved the ball," said McElveen. "I think we were a little bit more sloppier today on the defensive end than we normally are. That's going to be expected the way we play. Sometimes we're going to be in the right spot in the right time, and other times we're going to be out of position. They exploited that tonight."

Staples' Nikki Bukovsky scored eight points, while teammate Nolan Remy recorded six steals and four assists.