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Trinity’s Taylor Nazon guarded Marist star JeTaun Rouse on Monday better than anyone ever has and there is a good reason for that.
Nazon, Rouse and Marist forward Leah Bolton all played together at the same elementary school in the Beverly neighborhood, so there are no secrets between them.
Even so, Nazon’s defensive effort against the Marquette-bound Rouse at the McDonald’s Shootout at Willowbrook was a revelation.
Rouse, Marist’s all-time leading scorer, endured the worst shooting performance of her career, scoring 13 points on 4-for-27 shooting. Nazon, meanwhile, tallied a team-high 17 points to lead Trinity to a 60-46 victory.
“I’ve played with JeTaun for so long, I still know her tendencies,” said Nazon, a Loyola recruit. “We scouted them, so we knew their plays really well, so we knew when to switch and when to sandwich it. We’re a very good defensive team.”
And it all starts with Nazon, who constantly harassed Rouse. Rouse missed all 13 of her shots in the first half, including seven in the first quarter when the No. 5 Blazers (17-3) built a 23-10 lead. Only once did Rouse make back-to-back baskets and it didn’t matter where the shots came from; she was 1-for-10 from three-point range and couldn’t get much to drop in the lane, either.
“It was an off night for JeTaun and JeTaun guarded Taylor, too.” Marist coach Mary Pat Connolly said. “It was a battle of the neighborhood. They’ve been playing with each other and against each other for years and years.”
It was an off night for all of the No. 14 RedHawks (13-7), who combined to make only 17 of 69 shots, including 1 of 17 threes.
Trinity, in contrast, had no such problem finding the range, hitting 10 of 26 three tries. Unheralded reserve guard Mary Dillon sank four consecutive three-pointers in the first quarter and made five treys overall en route to a 15-point effort.
That wasn’t the most prolific outing for Dillon, a 5-7 sophomore whose career high is 21 points, but it was her most noteworthy game on a big stage and gives Trinity yet another weapon.
“It just lets me know that I’m getting better and I’m really proud of myself,” Dillon said. “I have a lot of great girls that I play with. They all get me the ball and they know when to get the ball to me.”
Nazon and junior point guard Lauren Prochaska were the ones who consistently found Dillon open in both corners and on the wing as the Blazers again adroitly ran their offense with punishing efficiency.
“That’s leadership from our captains,” Dillon said. “They know what to do and they help out the younger people because I don’t really know where to go. Sometimes I look kind of lost out there and they tell me where to go, so it’s all good.”
Everything the Blazers did was good except rebounding, where Marist held a 50-29 edge. That kept the RedHawks in the game but ultimately was not enough to push them over the hump.
The closest Marist came was 30-28 when Rouse drained a three early in the third quarter, but Prochaska answered with a layup and Shannon McGinnis followed with a three-pointer and a layup to boost the lead back to nine. Trinity led by at least that much the rest of the way.
Prochaska continued her outstanding play, finishing with nine points, a career-high 13 rebounds and six assists. Annie McKenna added 10 points and McGinnis had six points and five boards.
Bolton, who is third on Marist’s all-time scoring list, had 15 points, including her 1,500th career point, and 12 rebounds, but the rest of the RedHawks combined for just 18 points.
“They’re an awesome team and they just had their way with us,” Connolly said. “We came out of the zone because they were shooting it and the man couldn’t stop them either.
“They dribble penetrate and then when you sag in on them they kick out. We were hoping that maybe they weren’t going to hit their threes. That’s the only way we’re going to beat that team.”