By ADAM PRUIETT
Lauren Camm picked the most opportune time Friday night to unveil a new facet of her game.
“Last year I had my 3-point game and my layup game, but I never really had a mid-range,” the New Albany junior guard explained. “So this whole summer I came back from injury and all I did was shoot from 15-foot everywhere. That’s more of my game. I like that better.”
It showed with 17 seconds left against previously unbeaten Providence, as Camm pulled up and drilled a go-ahead jumper to break a deadlock and send the visiting Bulldogs to a 42-39 victory in their season debut.
Camm was saddled with foul trouble in the first half and had something to prove by the time the fourth quarter rolled around and the Pioneers (5-1) began erasing a 30-24 deficit that resulted from a 12-0 run by the Bulldogs (1-0) to close the third. After Providence marksman Claire Rauck buried her 13th free throw to tie the game at 39 with 33 seconds left, Camm received the ball on the right wing on the ensuing possession.
She pump faked and entered the paint. At that point, she had a decision to make.
“I was going to drive, but I just stopped and pulled up,” Camm said. “I thought that would be better.”
She made the right choice, calmly knocking down a jumper in the paint to give New Albany the lead with 17 seconds left. Camm scored six of her eight points in the fourth quarter.
Providence missed a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession, and New Albany junior forward Claire Hirsch blocked a putback attempt. A held possession was called on the fight for the ball and possession went to the Bulldogs, who got a free throw from senior guard Brittany Knight with 3 seconds left for the final margin.
“We struggled in the first quarter with fouls, but we came back and got the win,” Knight said.
Rauck poured in a game-high 21 points for Providence. At one point, she drained 11 consecutive free throws and finished 13 of 17 from the charity stripe. The freshman forward also made a pair of 3-pointers, including one that followed another by senior forward Taylor Smallwood as the Pioneers pushed back.
“She’s special,” Providence coach Brad Burden said of Rauck. “She’s going to be a lot of fun to coach the next four years.”
New Albany racked up plenty of fouls early in the contest as Providence shot the bonus before the first quarter ended. However, the Bulldogs dominated on the offensive glass and neither team led by more than four points in the first half. That was the advantage the Pioneers had at halftime, as both teams struggled with turnovers.
To temper their fouls, the Bulldogs switched to a 3-2 zone in the second half and it was effective. Providence didn’t score over the final 5:59 of the third quarter.
“We have a really strong 3-2 and I think our 3-2 is going to help us a lot this year because of our length,” Camm said.
“Their long and we don’t have a lot of inside play,” Burden said. “If we can’t get up and down the floor and in transition, we struggle, especially against length.”
Sophomore guard Jenna Shine scored 10 points, all in the first half, for New Albany. Hirsch added eight and 10 rebounds. Seven of junior forward Brianne Nixon’s rebounds were of the offensive variety.
Smallwood chipped in eight points for Providence. In addition to her 21 points, Rauck corralled seven rebounds.
NEW ALBANY 42, PROVIDENCE 39
New Albany 8 8 14 12—42
Providence 9 11 4 15—39
New Albany (1-0): Jenna Shine 10, Brianne Nixon 5, Lauren Camm 8, Marissa Jones 5, Brittany Knight 6, Claire Hirsch 8.
Providence (5-1): Cheyenne Brooks 2, Olivia Jenkins 4, Michaela Hoke 2, Bayley Wade 1, Taylor Smallwood 8, Claire Rauck 21, Lillian Hughes 1.
3-point field goals: New Albany 4 (Shine 2); Providence 4 (Rauck 2, Smallwood 2).
Rebounds: New Albany 41 (Nixon 11); Providence 34 (Rauck 7).
Assists: New Albany 6 (Shine 2); Providence 4 (Jenkins 3).
Steals: New Albany 7 (Knight 3); Providence 6 (Jenkins 2, Wade 2).
Blocked shots: New Albany 3 (Megan Thevenow, Camm, Hirsch); Providence 1 (Hoke).
Turnovers: New Albany 17; Providence 16.
Fouled out: None.