Columbus East’s aggressive defense in the second and third quarters apparently became too aggressive in the fourth quarter as the Olympians were whistled for more than a dozen fouls, enabling Martinsville to visit the charity stripe at a frequent pace and pull away for a 60-50 win.
East (9-9) had dug itself out of an early first-quarter hole, trailing by 11 points after the opening frame to take a five-point lead at half.
The Olympians maintained the lead through the third period and even held a 44-42 lead midway through the final period before the Artesians began their free throw parade and the host began crumbling.
“All of sudden we couldn’t touch anyone, and then things got out of hand,” said East coach Danny Brown. “We weren’t able to play the defense that got us to that point and missed some opportunities on offense.”
Junior Allyson Bunch paced the Olympians most of the evening, finishing with 26 points and 10 rebounds while lone senior Mikala Lomax, who was honored before the contest, added 11 and 6-foot-3 junior Sarah Loesch followed with eight points, five rebounds and three blocked shots.
But hardly any East player made much of impact offensively in the final frame as Brown’s squad connected on just one field goal and was outscored 23-10.
Martinsville trailed 40-37 heading into the fourth before jumping in front 45-44 after a 3-pointer by Caitlin Nix at the 4:10 mark. The Arties then went on to sink 13 of 15 free tosses and watched as the East players began fouling out, including Lomax at the 3:55 mark.
“That was a big turning point in the game,” Brown said. “We needed Mikala on the floor. It’s just not how you want to see her play her last home game.”
A jump shot by Bunch with 90 seconds remaining pulled the Olympians to within six, 55-49, but two more East players fouled out en route to Martinsville drilling its last five of six free throws to salt away the contest. Martinsville put seven players in the scoring column, including Gabby Fisher with 19 and Alyxa Shields with 12. The visitors also hit five three-pointers, including back-to-back bombs to open the third period and take a 28-27 lead.
The Olympians’ largest lead was 35-28 midway through the third period and had a chance to increase it, but misfired and watched Martinsville answer at the other end with its third triple of that quarter.
“I feel that was the turning point,” Brown said. “Instead of going up by nine, we’re now just ahead by four. That’s a five-point swing that hurt us.”