NORTH ADAMS — Mike Dowling can't quite put his finger on it, but something happens to his McCann Tech girls basketball team in the third quarter of games.
On Monday night against Turners Falls, the Hornets held a four-point lead after three minutes of the third, but the Indians rallied from there to take a two-point lead into the fourth en route to a 38-35 win on the road.
"We played with them the whole game," Dowling said. "We have some sort of a third-quarter jinx on us where we don't come out and carry our momentum from the first half into the second half."
Foul shots ultimately doomed the Hornets. Despite making three more field goals than Turners Falls, the Indians scored 16 points at the free-throw line — 10 coming from Maddie Chymzinski — to McCann's nine.
"They made 16, 17 foul shots," Dowling said. "We obviously fouled too much. They made all their free throws. We didn't do bad at the line, we could have done better, but it seems like we get killed by fouls and turnovers."
Turners finished 16 for 31 from the charity stripe, while McCann shot 9 for 20.
The free throws were frustrating for McCann. After holding Chymzinski (14 points), Turners' leading scorer, to just five points in the first half as she dealt with injuries, the Hornets didn't allow the Turners talisman to get going from the field. Rather, Chymzinski did her work from the free-throw line.
"I think we were frustrating her, too, and everything in the first half," Dowling said of his team's work on Chymzinski. "I think she kind of collected herself better in the second half. We definitely kept her off the board, but couldn't on the free-throw line."
After falling behind 4-2 early, McCann held the lead for the majority of the first half. Turners Falls managed to tie the game at 11-11 on a free throw from Chymzinski, but then Allie Gibeau (game-high 16 points) bucket gave McCann the lead back. The Hornets held a 16-15 edge at the break.
In the second half, McCann opened the lead up to four on a freebie from Gibeau, but then the momentum started shifting when Chloe Ellis had to leave the game for Turners Falls with an injury.
As Dowling put it, that was the moment his team needed to go for the throttle.
"It definitely made the playing field more even," Dowling said. "We were up. I wanted that six-, eight-point lead and we didn't get it, then all of a sudden we were tied. Free-throw shooting killed us from there."
Turners got the lead back for good on four free throws from Chymzinski, which made it 24-21, and the Indians never looked back.
Down the stretch, McCann kept itself in it by floating between deficits of four and two points. Kelly Dobbert (8 points) made it 37-35 with just under a minute to go, but then another free throw from Chymzinski put the Indians up three, and Dobbert's 3-point shot at the buzzer rimmed out.
Dobbert finished with 12 rebounds to go along with her points haul. Aimee Dowling was kept off the scoresheet, but managed four steals and three assists in the loss. For Turners, Aliyah Sanders had nine points. Chymzinski added five steals to her effort, and Ellis finished with 10 rebounds despite missing over 12 minutes at the end of the contest.
McCann drops to 1-5 with the loss. The Hornets are back in action on Friday at home against Hampden Charter.
TURNERS FALLS (38)
Fiske 1-0-3, Hason 1-0-2, Loynd 2-2-6, Chymzinski 2-10-14, Miner 1-0-2, Ellis 0-2-2, Sanders 3-2-9. Totals 10-16-38.
MCCANN TECH (35)
Dobbert 3-2-8, Gibeau 6-4-16, Malloy 1-2-4, Dean 2-0-4, Felton 0-1-1, Budaj 1-0-2. Totals 13-9-35.
3-point goals: TF (Fiske, Sanders)