Defense and rebounding helped the Barrington High School girls' basketball team overcome some sluggish shooting stretches and defeat Moses Brown 46-36 in the state open tournament semifinals at URI's Ryan Center on Saturday.
The win propelled Barrington into the finals on Sunday at 3:30 at the Ryan Center, where they will play against LaSalle. The game is a rematch of the Division I tournament final which Barrington won.
The Eagles held a 26-20 half-time lead, but struggled to score at the start of the second half. The nearly five-minute drought from the field was balanced by Barrington's pressing relentless defense, which forced turnovers and a 10-second violation.
"The defense is always our first priority," said Barrington's senior center Grace Coutu. "That comes first and then offense comes second."
Barrington's head coach Stephen Lenz agreed.
"We had a lot of success against them with the press the first two times. The difference is now you're out on this (larger) floor, so you're getting tired. We tried to use it in spurts when we could," he said.
A number of Barrington players, led Olivia Middleton, Cary Heterick and Andrea Kubas-Meyer, harassed the Moses Brown ball-handlers all game.
"We wanted to play an up-tempo game," said Lenz. "I think we played with a little bit more energy and urgency in the second half."
After going scoreless for the first four-plus minutes of the second half, Barrington pushed the ball inside to Coutu, who scored two of her 10 points on the game. Glory Ellison then hit a jumper, and after Kubas-Meyer stole a Quakers pass, she found Elizabeth Hutchings inside for a basket. That score gave Barrington a 32-24 lead with about 10 minutes remaining.
Kubas-Meyer drained a big three-pointer a short time later.
Oluchi Ezemma tried to keep things close for Moses Brown, scoring on the offensive end and trying to slow down Barrington's inside game on the defensive end.
Coutu matched Ezemma's intensity and dropped in another layup to give the Eagles a 37-26 edge with 8:10 left.
"She's very tough," said Coutu of Ezemma. "I know I just have to go up strong every single time and I know that I will get it."
Coutu had help on the inside by Ellison and Hutchings.
"Liddy Hutchings did a great job," said Lenz. "She was all over the boards. The difference in the first half, we got out-rebounded. The second half we did a much better job. I wrote it down at halftime — 21-13 (Moses Brown advantage) overall. That's a big discrepancy so we needed to close that gap."
Ellison scored in a variety of ways late in the game for Barrington — hitting a mid-range jumper, scoring off a fast-break layup and knocking down a free throw. The junior forward finished with 15 points.
Kubas-Meyer scored eight points, while Middleton had five and Heterick finished with four.
Coach Lenz said he was pleased with his team's performance and looking forward to the final.
"Hopefully we come out tomorrow, whoever we're playing, and we play with some adrenaline," he said after the game.