CHICAGO | With Erin Drynan, a 6-foot-2 forward, out sick Saturday, Mother McAuley started no player taller than 5-7 in its game with Times No. 3 Crete-Monee.
The Warriors, meanwhile, had three players 6-0 or taller in its first five, and quickly brought 6-1 Marsha Howard off the bench.
"This did not become a game of who's bigger and who's shorter," Crete-Monee coach Christina Cobbins said after her wilted in the second half of a 59-45 loss. "It became a game of who wanted it more."
Who, on this afternoon, was McAuley's 5-6 guard tandem of Molly O'Malley and, especially, Elizabeth Nye.
Nye had 34 points, attacking the rim repeatedly and making 21 of the 24 resulting trips to the free-throw line. O'Malley chipped in 13.
"Nye … she's a phenomenal guard," Cobbins said. "She comes out with the idea she has to carry her team, and she does just that. Relentlessly, she attacks."
And ultimately, Crete stopped defending and started reaching.
"I never had a game where I got fouled so much," Nye said.
In the fourth quarter, she made 15-of-18 free throws.
"We started to run our offense more times (before shooting)," she said. "The more reverses you get, people kind of get sick of playing defense."
Crete (12-5) led only briefly, last at 18-16 roughly three minutes before the half. Howard, who was 6-of-8 from the floor en route to 15 points, was the Warriors' only consistent offensive threat. As a team, Crete was 18-of-44 (41 percent) from the field and got to the line just 11 times.
"We should have been able to do more," Cobbins said. "We should have been able to hold our position in the post better … We weren't aggressive enough and the whistles weren't going our way."
Crete didn't help itself on the boards. Though Howard had three put-back buckets and led her team with nine rebounds, McAuley won the battle on the glass 29-26.
"We just weren't crashing the boards," Howard said. "In games where we lose, the focus is mainly on boxing out."
Crete started the third quarter with a 7-2 run, Khaliah Herbert's three-pointer tying the game at 27. But Nye answered with one of her three treys to kick off an 11-4 splurge for McAuley (13-4) over the rest of the period.
The Warriors got no closer than four points in the fourth quarter.