Shandy Robbins sat there, in tears, her 27-point, 16-rebound effort gone to waste.
Jennifer Ludwicki and Nicole Strange were bounding in the air with teammates, celebrating Fountain Valley’s first step toward dethroning four-time defending Sunset League champion Marina with a 63-56 victory Thursday-- at Marina.
The fifth-ranked Barons (14-5, 3-0 in league) used poise at the free-throw line that they lacked the first three quarters to beat the fourth-ranked Vikings (13-3, 2-1).
“It’s huge,” Ludwicki said. “They’ve won the league the last four years, and we were really pumped; this was the game of the week-- the game of the year.
“It’s big to win (at Marina). . . . We lost only one game last year in our place.”
Tied at 16-16 and 31-31 through the first and second quarters, Fountain Valley held a 47-45 lead through three. The Barons’ free-throw shooting in the final minutes provided the difference. Holding a 54-52 lead with 2 minutes 43 seconds remaining, Fountain Valley made seven of its final 10 free throws after making only nine of its first 18.
The Barons got help from a stone-cold Viking team that made only three of 17 fourth-quarter shots. Robbins, three for nine in the final quarter, scored all 11 of Marina’s fourth-quarter points.
Robbins finished 10 for 21 from the field; her teammates were a combined 10 for 37 (27%).
Although Robbins won the individual scoring battles against Fountain Valley’s key players, forwards Ludwicki (18 points, four rebounds) and Strange (15 points, seven rebounds), the difference was the guard play; Fountain Valley’s guards outscored Marina’s, 25-13, led by Erin Avila’s 14 points.
Tied, 52-52, Avila’s 10-footer and Strange’s free throws made it a four-point game; Robbins cut the lead to 56-54, but Fountain Valley’s free throws were too much; Strange’s three-point play with one-second left made it a seven-point game.
“We wanted (to win), but on the court, they wanted it more,” said Robbins, a senior. “It showed by them outhustling us; we didn’t get in their face on defense and they got in ours. We have to be the aggressors on defense; that wasn’t us out there tonight.
“Nothing was going right--our easy shots, our outside shots, our defense. We talked about it at halftime and they took it away from us.”
In other Sunset League games:
Edison 82, Los Alamitos 35--Marie Philman scored 23 points and Kerry O’Bric added 17 points for No. 8 Edison (13-3, 2-1).
Esperanza 66, Huntington Beach 54--Lindsay Foss scored 19 points and Monique Toney added 16 for No. 9 Esperanza (13-4, 1-1). Huntington Beach is 10-8, 0-3.