NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ -- The distance the second-seeded New Providence girls basketball team is going to travel in the Union County Tournament is going to depend a lot on how effective its press defense is.
In Round One, it was mighty effective.
Fueled by its fullcourt pressure, New Providence built a 14-point lead after one quarter and went on to a 68-35 victory over Roselle in the opening round of the UCT Tuesday afternoon at home.
Freshman guard Meghan Lamanna scored 18 points and made five steals; junior guard Lindsay Kinum had 12 points, five steals and three assists; and senior swing Juliana DeGeorge came off the bench to supply 10 points for the Pioneers (21-2), who benefited from 15 turnovers by Roselle (14-5) in the opening quarter to help build a 25-11 lead.
Senior guard Kaitlyn Cumiskey led New Providence with six steals in addition to contributing six points and four assists.
"We definitely rely on the press to get us going," said Kinum, who sank four of seven shots from the field and all four of her free throws. "We are a team with a lot of speed, but not much size. The press allows us to speed up the game, and in this game we got a lot of practice with our rotations in the press and created a lot of scoring opportunities off of it."
Roselle actually made most of its first-quarter shots. Problem for the Rams was, they only took seven shots--making five--because they rarely were able to advance the ball past midcourt unscathed. The Pioneers were nine-for-18 shooting in the first quarter, when Lamanna scored 10 of her points.
Along with DeGeorge, freshman forward Grace Kelly provided valuable minutes off the bench with eight points and five rebounds.
New Providence came into the came having lost a hard-fought and instructive 48-45 decision on the road to Westfield last Saturday in a regular-season game against the top seed in this tournament. Although it was a defeat, the game provided some benefits for coach Cap Pazdera's Pioneers.
"Playing Westfield definitely prepared us for what we might see in the tournament," Kinum said. "They pressed us and they had a lot of size. We learned we have to box out well, and saw got to see what the No. 1 team looks like."
New Providence will play the winner of the Hillside-Gov. Livingston game in the quarterfinals Friday at a neutral site to be announced.