Georgia Williams' impressive start to her sophomore season is starting to make life for her teammates a little easier.
Taking advantage of the attention paid to Williams, Ashland's Michaela Dunn came off the bench to make four 3-pointers on her way to a season-high 19 points and Hannah Thornton added 12 as the Grizzlies pulled out a 52-39 nonconference win over Phoenix on Tuesday at Mountain Avenue Gym.
The victory, Ashland's first at home, snapped the Grizzlies' three-game losing streak and gives them some momentum heading into this weekend's Ashland Rotary Hoops Classic. Ashland (3-4) hosts Summit in the first round Friday.
"(Dunn) was great," Ashland head coach Emily Hesse said of the sophomore post. "She was confident on the offensive end and was hitting them and knew she could hit them. It was just great to see her confidence and to see her working harder and harder."
That hard work paid off at just the right time for the Grizzlies.
Ashland struggled at the outset, scoring just four points in the opening quarter, but caught fire in the second and took the lead for good when Dunn sank her second of back-to-back 3s to make it 14-13. Sadie Kasiah's 3 about two minutes later capped a 15-4 rally and gave the Grizzlies a 19-13 lead.
Phoenix (2-2) battled back in the third, cutting Ashland's lead to 27-26 on Bailee Tally's fastbreak layin with five minutes to go, but the Grizzlies answered with another Dunn 3, which kicked off a 13-0 Ashland spurt that iced the game.
Dunn scored nine points in the key rally, all on three-point plays — two bombs, plus three free throws after she was fouled shooting another 3.
Also for the Grizzlies, Kasiah scored nine points and dished out six assists, while Williams, who was held to just four points, pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.
"They double-teamed Georgia (Williams), one of our best shooters, so we had to adjust and work around that," Hesse said. "And Georgia took on a great role in becoming the assist-maker and becoming the decoy, and that was really nice to see. It just made everyone else step up and have to know that, 'I need to shoot as well, I can be confident in this shot, I can be aggressive in my drives.' And I think that's the mentality that slowly started changing."
For Phoenix, Baylee Toney scored 11 points and Bailee Tally nine.
The Pirates struggled at the charity stripe, hitting just 11 of 27 free throws, including 6 of 18 in the second half. They also had a hard time penetrating Ashland's perimeter defense, which limited Phoenix to six field goals in the middle two quarters.
The Grizzlies also used a full-court press to start the fourth quarter, forcing the Pirates to burn a timeout.
"It was nice to see that even though they had tired legs, they still were being aggressive," Hesse said. "Before the game we talked about defense — that was their focus. "… It takes some momentum sometimes to get it to click, and it started clicking."
PHOENIX (39) — B. Tally 9, D. Tally 6, Skaff 4, Marshall 6, Toney 11, Hamilton 1, Brown 2. Totals: 14 11-27 39.
ASHLAND (52) — Williams 4, Winner 2, Teixeira 2, Dunn 19, Kasiah 9, Thornton 12, Brookins 4, Kuykendall 0, Henderson-Brazie 0. Totals: 22 3-3 52.
Phoenix 9 10 7 13 — 39
Ashland 4 21 12 15 — 52
3-point goals — Ashland 5 (Dunn 4, Kasiah 1).
JV score — Phoenix won.