WILMINGTON – Later this season, when the Padua basketball team is remembering its best-played games of the season, Thursday night’s contest against St. Mark’s is not likely to come to mind. The Pandas and Spartans may have had more turnovers than field goals, more fouls than assists, in a contest whose principal feature was the referee’s whistle.
Padua, however, will take the result, a 46-32 home win over St. Mark’s in a Catholic Conference battle. It was the first conference win for Padua (3-5), which previously had dropped home games to Ursuline and St. Elizabeth.
St. Mark’s (4-4) jumped out to a 7-0 lead, with the Spartans’ man-to-man defense and press causing numerous problems for Padua. But after senior guard Emma Matthews ended the scoring drought with a layup off an inbounds pass more than four minutes into the first period, Padua steadily took control, holding a 10-9 advantage after the first period and 20-16 at the half.
Twelve of the Pandas’ first-half points came from the free-throw line, as did 11 of St. Mark’s 16. In fact, after a three-point shot by senior Claudia Seemans with about three minutes to go in the first quarter, the Spartans did not hit another field goal until junior Claire Igo drained a shot midway through the third. Padua outscored St. Mark’s, 15-5, in the third, finally finding some rhythm from the field and taking a 14-point lead into the final stanza.
“We’re trying to play a fast-paced game, but we want to slow down and minimize turnovers,” Matthews said. “When it gets hectic and it’s turnovers and back and forth, it makes it chaotic and everybody can’t think straight. It’s better to just slow it down and just run our plays, which we kind of failed to do tonight, but we still got the win.”
Padua used its superior height to gain several second chances, keeping the Spartans at bay. Junior Taylor Hazewski came up big in the third for Padua, scoring all seven of her points in the stanza.
Matthews was forced to the bench as the fourth quarter began after picking up her fourth foul, and Seemans scored five straight to cut the deficit to nine. Padua coach Jason Matthews got Emma Matthews back on the floor after that, and she scored five of her game-high 15 to seal the Pandas’ victory.
Seemans led the Spartans with nine points, while Igo added eight.
Padua is back in action next Friday, when Glasgow visits for a 3:30 p.m. matinee. The Pandas will travel to Archmere the next day, Jan. 18, to face the Auks at 2 p.m. in a game rescheduled from earlier this week. St. Mark’s hosts Delaware Military Academy Saturday at 2:30 p.m.