Photo: Belmont’s defense held Wakefield to a single basket in the first quarter.
For the final three-quarters, the 10-1 Wakefield Warriors played host Belmont just about even, scoring 33 points to the Marauders 32.
There was just one problem for Wakefield: a first quarter of perfection by the Marauders.
In the game’s initial eight minutes, Belmont (9-2, 9-1 in the league) played with the intensity and skill that would make the UConn Huskies proud, annihilating the 17th-ranked Warriors (10-2) 24-2 as Belmont dismissed Wakefield, 56-35 on Friday, Jan. 27.
“Wow,” said one of Belmont’s assistant coaches at the end of the first as the players came to the bench in wide-eyed astonishment, looking up at the scoreboard just to confirm what they had accomplished.
It was a quarter that Marauders’ suffocating defense stifled all but a single shot while its offense was nearly flawless, grabbing offense rebounds and making shots from in close and from a distance.
In a win in which each Marauder contributed to the victory, the night’s standout was sophomore center, Jess Giorgio. While a defensive stalwart since her freshman year – which came to the fore during last season’s playoff run – Giorgio offensive production has steadily increased through the season to where she has become a clear threat on both ends of the court.
Friday, Giorgio dominated the first quarter, hitting jumpers and free throws, grabbing rebounds, and making three assists on the first four Belmont baskets. In the final minute, she created a traveling offense, took a charge and made a driving layup with time running out to finish off the 24 point explosion. She finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds for her second double-double in three games.
“It was really, really fun to come out really hard … because we knew we had to come out to beat them. They’re one of the biggest competitors in the league … it was a really good team win,” said Giorgio to the Belmontonian.
It was a team win from the open tipoff as Belmont’s starters outpaced Wakefield. A Giorgio offensive rebound led to a jumper from sophomore guard Meghan Tan followed by a 3 from junior forward Jenny Call. Giorgio converted a pair of free throws, a jumper, and two big defensive rebounds as Tan pickpocketed Wakefield guards for a pair of steals and junior guard and two-time all-star Carly Christofori hitting a three and free throws. By the time Wakefield called its first timeout at 3:24 remaining in the first, Belmont was up 18-2.
But the reprieve did not cool off Belmont as junior guard Alexa Sabatino 3-pointer and Giorgio’s final scoring spurt ended the quarter. While there were 24 minutes remaining in the game, the contest was essentially over.
Belmont kept the lead above 20 until midway through the fourth quarter when a Wakefield 3 cut the lead to 17 (50-33). But baskets by Giorgio (outrebounding a pair of Warrior defenders), sophomore Jane Mahon and Riley Haight gave Belmont its final margin of victory.
Next up for Belmont is a trip to meet the SpyPonders at Arlington on Friday, Feb. 3.