BRIDGEWATER, NJ - The Millburn girls basketball team survived a bevy of turnovers in a competitive first quarter, but against Bridgewater-Raritan's withering full-court pressure, the shots eventually stopped coming while the turnovers continued.
A 15-0 run in the second quarter gave Bridgewater-Raritan command of the game on its way to a 47-26 victory over Millburn in the semifinal round of the NJSIAA Section 2, Group 4 tournament Friday afternoon.
Bridgewater-Raritan's Meghan Ball scored 15 of her game-high 19 points in the first half, many created by the Panthers' full court pressure, which caused havoc for Millburn, which was frequently unable to advance the ball past half court as the opening half went on.
Millburn was down by only a point, 12-11, late in the first quarter before Bridgewater scored the last four points, with Keiko Fox beating the buzzer with a coast-to-coast layup that gave the Panthers a 16-11 lead and an abundance of momentum heading into the decisive second quarter.
With the score 17-13, Bridgewater (17-10) reeled off 15 points in a row to open a 19-point lead. Ball's quick hands and savvy defense led to several steals which she turned into layups.
Kayla Wolff led Millburn (19-7) with 14 points and Jeryl Witherspoon finished with seven rebounds in the loss. Witherspoon received extended minutes off the bench as several Millburn starters got into early foul trouble. Versatile senior forward Rachel Hubertus had three fouls in the first half, limiting her ability to block shots and attack the boards as aggressively as she normally does.
Millburn had won four games in a row heading into Friday's semifinal, but those victories were secured in close contests. Once Bridgewater unleashed its second-quarter flurry, the Millers were never able to make it close the rest of the way, coming as close as 12 briefly early in the third quarter.
Bridgewater-Raritan is now 17-10 on the season, and faces Franklin in the finals Monday.