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Phillipsburg girls beat TMP in overtime

By KLINT SPILLER

kspiller@dailynews.net

The Phillipsburg girls' basketball team demonstrated Tuesday it can be pretty good if it doesn't turn the ball over.

The Panthers won 47-40 in overtime against Thomas More Prep-Marian at Al Billinger Fieldhouse.

Phillipsburg (2-3) struggled with turnovers all night, committing 26, but the Panthers had just one in the final six minutes as they tied the game and won it.

"We came through, settled down a little bit and made some big shots at the end," said Phillipsburg head coach Kim Pakkebier. "I'm really proud of their ability to step up and finish that one."

Meanwhile, TMP dropped to 0-4 for the first time since 2001-2002 and snapped a six-game winning streak against Phillipsburg that dated back to the 2007-2008 season.

"No matter where you're at, it's frustrating," said first-year TMP head coach Rose McFarland. "Nobody wants to be 0-4 to start the season, and neither do our players."

Phillipsburg made TMP pay at the free throw line. The Panthers took advantage of 31 opportunities and made 23 of them.

Panther junior forward Mattison Dusin played a significant role in that, scoring 12 of her 14 points at the foul line.

Dusin did most of her damage on the free throw line, because she made just 1 of 8 shots from the field. She also grabbed a team-high 15 rebounds.

"We contained her," McFarland said. "We did a good job on her in the first half, but she made a lot of free throws. ... We can't go up to try and block her shot. We just have to defend her and box her out."

TMP senior point guard Heather Ruder led the Monarchs with 17 points on 6-of-18 shooting, and senior guard Allison Pfeifer added nine points and a team-high nine rebounds.

The Monarchs played well at times, but they couldn't get their shots to fall, especially early.

TMP made 16 of 49 shots and 5 of 14 free throws. The Monarchs were just 5 of 23 after the first half, but they managed to stay in it largely due to Phillipsburg's inability to take care of the ball.

"To start the game, we had a lot of open layup-type shots," McFarland said. "We had layups, and we had shots in the paint that we just didn't make.

"I figured at halftime, if we would have made those, we would have been up by 12 at least."

The Panthers had 14 first-half turnovers and led 14-11 at halftime.

Pakkebier attributed her team's turnovers to inexperience.

"We are a really young team," she said. "We are working on taking care of the ball a little better."

Both teams played much better in the second half.

Phillipsburg cut down on its turnovers, and TMP started making shots.

After trailing 28-19 with a minute remaining in the third quarter, TMP went on a six-minute, 15-1 run that pushed TMP up 34-29. Ruder largely fed the run, making four consecutive shots for 10 points.

But then Phillipsburg hit two 3-pointers and went 3 of 4 from the foul line in the final two minutes to tie the game at 38.

Panther junior guard Madysen Frantz made a 3-pointer with 31 seconds remaining to tie it. Frantz finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds.

"I'm not really a shooter, so my adrenaline was going crazy," Frantz said. "It was awesome. It was a great feeling. It felt like from then on, we would win."

Phillipsburg did exactly that, outscoring TMP 9-2 in overtime.

After starting 0-3, the Panthers now have won two straight.

"We just wanted to win," Frantz said. "We had been in a slump, and we wanted to come back and get that win."