Losing can do more than hurt a team in the standings.
"Yesterday was a hard day," said Bulldog coach Jeremy Chatterton after Judge defeated Union 47-41 Thursday night. "The girls were really down after our loss to Wasatch on Tuesday. They were tired and frustrated."
So after practice Wednesday, he pulled his four seniors aside and asked them to lead the team out of its funk by being more positive with their teammates.
"We talked about everybody being on their own island out there on the court, just focused on themselves," he said. "They needed to rely on each other and help each other. If someone makes a mistake, don't just ignore it, tell them it's O.K."
The result was a happy, harmonized team effort in the Bulldogs win over the Cougars — and it happened on senior night.
Union jumped out to a lead behind the impressive shooting of Abby Mecham. She scored all but one of the team's eight points in the first quarter, including a 3-pointer. But before the first quarter was over, the Bulldogs owned a two-point lead, thanks in large part to a very balanced offensive attack. Three players scored the team's 10 points.
Judge began pressing Union midway through the first quarter and it led to a number of turnovers, although they couldn't always convert those Cougar mistakes into Bulldogs points. The Cougar scoring was taken over by Krissy Hall, who scored all of the team's points in the second quarter. With their defense providing them energy, the Bulldogs stretched the lead to six points in two minutes. By half-time the score was 27-18 in favor of Judge.
"We knew from when we played them at their place that our press would help us," Chatterton said. "This is the type of team we match up with . . . Our press is basically a full-court man-to-man."
The Bulldog pressure continued to rattle the Cougars for about two minutes of the third quarter. Then Mecham took over for the Cougars again with two rebounds, a put-back and a steal. The situation still looked bleak for the Cougars as the third quarter ended with the Bulldogs leading 40-28, due in large part to the play of Danielle Valdez and Katie McGill, who rebounded well and scored most of the team's points.
The fourth quarter, however, was another matter for both teams.
"We've done that a couple of times," Chatterton said. "We'll let people back into games."
The Cougars pulled themselves with in three points with 31 seconds left in the fourth. But it was Cleresa Roberts time to shine.
The junior guard played well all game, but she was nearly flawless down the stretch, hitting 4-of-5 free throws and finishing with 14 points, 10 rebounds and nine steals.
"This is a big win for us," Chatterton said. "More than anything it helps us get our psyche back."
After all, the Bulldogs head up to Morgan next Tuesday to face the unbeaten second-ranked Trojans.