Midway through the third quarter Friday night, Westlake forward Arial Pegues watched teammate Meredith Bell miss her fourth straight three-point attempt against visiting St. Mary's Ryken.
"I saw [Bell's] hands up in the air, and I knew she was getting frustrated," Pegues said. "I just told her to keep shooting. Just keep shooting."
Bell listened. The next time down the court, the junior guard lined up behind the arc and made the first of three straight three-pointers, sparking Westlake to a 58-54 comeback victory.
Bell also made key plays in the fourth quarter--she had the assist on the basket that put Westlake up for good, and she sank a three-pointer that put the game away with 2 minutes 36 seconds left. But her trio of threes made it all possible.
"Once I get my outside shot going, it really seems to make everything easier," said Bell, who scored 15 points. Bell's shooting extended the Knights' defense, allowing Pegues (16 points) and Phonicial Washington (10 points) room to maneuver inside.
"As soon as Meredith started making her outside shots, that's when I knew we were going to win this game," Pegues said. "It really gave us a lot of momentum; that makes us play with a lot more intensity."
Westlake (7-4, 5-2 in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference) fell behind, 17-4, early and were still down, 31-26, at halftime. The first of Bell's three straight three-pointers gave Westlake a 46-43 lead late in the third quarter.
St. Mary's Ryken (4-8, 3-4) kept the game close in the final period, leading by two at three different points. With the Knights ahead, 49-48, with 3:40 left, Bell fired a cross-court pass to her identical twin sister, Leigh, who calmly scored from the baseline to give the Wolverines the lead for good, 50-49. Meredith Bell, who averages 14 points per game, put the game away about a minute later when her final three-pointer made the score 55-49.
The Knights were led by junior Ashley Simms, who scored a game-high 19.
Westlake had an excuse for falling behind early--the team had not practiced since Jan. 13, in large part due to the recent snow.
Pegues, who scored 10 points in the first half, made much-needed jump shots to keep Ryken from running away with it early.
"Once we got into the locker room, all we talked about was how to play good team defense--that was all that mattered," Westlake Coach Connie Harris said. "We had to all get on the same road map."
St. Mary's Ryken (4-8, 3-4)--Arata 1 0-0 2, Cullins 2 2-2 6, Magnani 1 4-6 6, Semega 6 1-2 15, Simms 9 1-2 19, Willy 1 0-0 2, Steinhauser 2 0-1 4. Totals 22 8-13 54.
Westlake (7-4, 5-2)--L. Bell 4 0-0 8, M. Bell 6 0-3 15, Castillo 1 1-2 3, Pegues 7 2-4 16, Thompson 1 1-3 3, Huffman 1 0-0 3, Washington 4 2-2 10. Totals 24 6-14 58.
Halftime: St. Mary's Ryken, 31-26.
Three-point goals: St. Mary's Ryken 2 (Semega 2), Westlake 4 (M. Bell 3, Huffman 1).