HANOVERTON - After the Lady Warriors made good on just one of its eight attempts from 3-point territory in the first two quarters at United, West Branch head coach Walt DeShields told his team at the half that could not live or die at the perimeter.
He likely meant is as advice. His Warriors seemed to take it as a challenge.
West Branch went on to hit six 3-pointers in the third quarter breaking open a close game en route to a 50-34 win on Thursday.
"We got hot in the third," DeShields said. "We started hitting our outside shots. Rebekah (Zets) started us off and Melinda (Trimmer) kept us going. We had a great run in that quarter. We're able to do a lot of things that United just couldn't answer.
Golden Eagles coach Sam Mathias agreed.
"When a team is making their outside shots, there is little you can do," he said. "You just can't defend against that. They just hit some key 3's in the third."
The Warriors outscored the Eagles 22-7 in the third period. The high-production quarter turned what had been just a 23-21 West Branch edge at the break into a 45-28 game after three complete quarters.
Zets set the tone in the third with a trio of 3-pointers for nine points. Trimmer, Pavin Heath and Kelsey Loiselle each dropped in one from the beyond the arc.
"Our shooting in the third quarter did them in," DeShields added. "We were able to get back in the game in the second quarter and our defense carried us through. You're not going to shoot well in every quarter on the road. We were able to make some stops in the second quarter and take the lead."
The Warriors had to make up nine points to get back on even ground with the Eagles after giving up 17 points and scoring just eight in the first quarter.
"You have to give United credit, "DeShields said. "They came out fired up and shot the ball well in the first quarter. They came in here as a 7-1 team and they played with confidence."
Taylor Smith led the Eagles' first-quarter charge. She scored six points and pulled down five rebounds in the in the opening frame. Smith, however, would scored just four more on the night and finish with a United-high 10 points as the Eagles' hot streak, which put them up by as much as 10, suddenly turned cold. It took United three quarters to match the points it scored in the first.
"We knew coming in that West Branch was a good team," Mathias said. "They have a really nice program up there. We were able to score some points in the first quarter and get an early lead, but to their credit they weathered the storm and got right back in it in the second. We had bad possessions and you can't have bad possessions against a team like West Branch."
After clawing back in the second and cruising ahead in the third, the Warriors slowed things down in the fourth. The two teams combined for just 11 points. The Eagles scored six and West Branch came up with five.
Zets finished with a game-high 14 points, Pavin Heath added 13 and nine rebounds.
United fell to 7-2 with the loss, but remain undefeated in ITCL play. The Eagles next play Carrollton Thursday.
"We learned a lot about ourselves tonight," Mathias said. "We're going to build on this, learn from this and we'll be better for it in our league and come tournament time. We ran into a very good basketball team tonight."
West Branch is now 5-1. The Warriors also return to the court opposite Carrollton. They host the NBC team on Tuesday.
WEST BRANCH: 8 15 22 5 - 50
UNITED: 17 4 7 6 - 34
WEST BRANCH SCORING: Brittany Bryte 3-0-6, Melinda Trimmer 2-1-8, Kelsey Loiselle2-0-5, Rebekah Zets 5-014, Niki Carlton 2-1-3, Pavin Heath 6-0-13, Erica Johnson 0-1-1. TEAM TOTALS: 20, 3-6, 50.
UNITED SCORING: Emily Zehentbauer 2-2-7, Sam Spitler 1-0-2, Trata Gray 1-0-2, Mackenzie Gatchel 2-1-5, Cassidy Yoder 3-0-6, Ruth Prosko 0-2-2, Taylor Smith 4-2-10. TEAM TOTALS: 13, 7-15, 51.
THREE POINTERS: West Branch 7 (Zets 4, Trimmer, Loiselle, Heath), United 1 (Zehentbauer).