STERLING – Friday’s Northern Illinois Big 12 crossover between Sterling and Yorkville at Musgrove Fieldhouse featured a bout between a pair of quick, no-miss point guards.
Sterling had Gabby Sandoval.
The short, long-haired 5-foot, 2-inch point guard wearing No. 4 from Yorkville?
Audrey Mass … Audrey Mackey … Audrey Mossi ...?
Most people in the Sterling gym may have a hard time recalling her surname, as addressed after making key shots, but the Foxes’ Audrey Macciomei proved to be a tough challenge with her accurate shot selection and her pressure defense against Sandoval and the rest of the Golden Warriors in their 57-50 loss.
Yorkville (16-3, 7-1 NIB-12) overcame a bevy of missed shots in the first 6 minutes to claw back to a 43-41 lead after three quarters. Macciomei went 5-for-6 from the field in the second half, with 16 points against Sandoval’s defense.
Three makes were from behind the arc, and an additional basket came after a steal following her first triple of the half.
Sandoval had seven points to lead Sterling in the fourth quarter, but the magnitude of big 3-point shots by both Macciomei and Rebekah Hahn in the second half were too much for the Warriors (10-11, 3-3) to come back from.
“We didn’t give up on our shots, because eventually they are going to fall,” Macciomei said. “We just had to keep taking them and get the boards, so we had to box out harder.”
Macciomei, who ended up with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting, is someone that Sandoval won’t forget for the rest of the season.
“She’s a really good player,” Macciomei said of Sandoval. “It was a challenge for me, which was nice. We both challenged each other and both played our hardest.
“She was quick, and she could shoot. I just had to stay on her and try not to let her get the ball.”
Sandoval, who had 13 points, had much praise for the Foxes sophomore and her aggression on the box-and-one defense.
“She’s a scrappy little one,” Sandoval said of Macciomei. “I feel like she made me a better player because of the way she guarded me. They made me better this game.
“She played hard defense on me. She made shots in the fourth quarter.”
Sterling made the most of Yorkville’s shooting inaccuracy in getting out to a 10-4 lead. The Foxes made just one of its first nine shots, while Carolynn Hammelman pulled down four of the attempts for rebounds.
However, Hammelman’s services for the rest of the second half were lost after being on the wrong end of two charge calls against the defense of Erica Cyko – with the second run-in building up to a technical foul.
The momentum helped the Foxes rebound and play better in transition to stay in the game, trailing 30-24 at half, and eventually taking over late.
“We worked together and tried to really work hard to shut down their shooters,” Macciomei said. “We ran our transition, which is our best offense. We knocked down shots and got our confidence up, and went on from there.”
Sterling’s offensive attack was balanced, with Rashel Robinson’s 14 points leading the way, and Jay Borum’s 10 points contributing from the bench. Borum had three makes from the arc that buoyed the Warriors’s lead in the first half.
“We just got a little loose,” Sandoval said. “We weren’t playing ourselves. We needed to take care of the ball better, and they made some good shots.”