Nadiya Holley has developed a reputation as one of the city’s best scorers in recent weeks, but her shooting stroke had all but disappeared Tuesday night against Anacostia. She scored just one point in the first two quarters, missed a bundle of shots to start the third and watched opposing point guard Morgan Smiley help the Indians build a lead over her team.
That’s when Ballou Coach Andrew Gaston went to Holley and issued a request: He wanted his star to shadow Smiley, and become the best defender on the floor.
It worked, and Holley’s offensive game soon followed. The junior shooting guard scored 11 of her 14 points in the fourth quarter, and the Knights scored the game’s final nine points to earn a 53-44 win over rival Anacostia in a key DCIAA East contest.
“[The coaches] just wanted the ball out of [Smiley’s] hand as much as possible. I didn’t want her to have it either,” Holley said. “I made an adjustment.”
Holley’s willingness to be coached saved the Knights (13-7, 3-1 DCIAA East). Anacostia (12-7, 2-2) led the entire first half behind the offensive play of Smiley (16 points) — and Holley, who entered the night averaging a team-high 12.7 points per game, didn’t hit her first field goal until the four-minute mark of the third quarter.
But with her team down 36-28 to start the fourth, the 5-foot-6 Holley’s length disrupted Smiley and the Anacostia back court. She scored six of Ballou’s eight points to start the quarter — including a pair of deep jump shots that helped the Knights take a 41-40 lead with five minutes remaining.
“We slowed the game down to our pace,” Gaston said. “That turned the game around for us.”
Smiley didn’t get the same looks in the second half – and neither did the rest of the Anacostia lineup, which was held scoreless in the final three minutes as the Indians were unable to prevent Holley from taking over. She flipped priorities Tuesday — defense first, offense second — and along with freshman guard Ayonna Williams (17 points) combined to hit eight free throws late in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
With the victory, the Knights took sole possession of second place in the DCIAA East standings behind No. 14 H.D. Woodson (12-7, 3-0). The Indians, who will travel to Ballou for their regular season finale in Feb. 22, dropped their third straight.
“I had to get my team outta the hole. I wasn’t really feeling it the first half,” Holley said. “I had to find myself.”