SOUTHEAST GLENDALE — Riding a six-game winning streak on the heels of winning the Don Lugo Tournament championship, all seemed to be going right for the Glendale High girls' basketball team.
But just in front of the midway mark of its Pacific League opener against Pasadena, everything started to go wrong for the host Nitros.
Their shots wouldn't fall, rebounds were nearly impossible to come by and a first-quarter lead slipped into a lopsided defeat, as Glendale lost to Pasadena, 38-28.
"We went cold," said Glendale Coach Tania Adary, whose team made just three field goals over the last three quarters of play and made just eight of 46 shots (17%) for the game. "Even Stella [Ghazarian] and Serah [Mirzaeian] were off and they scored 25 together.
"There were layups we were missing."
Ghazarian scored a game-high 15, while Mirzaeian scored 10, but it wasn't enough to overcome a Pasadena squad (10-4) that used its height advantage to literally shoot over Glendale defenders and make easy, high-percentage shots, while the Nitros made but three field goals over the span of the final three quarters.
Ghazarian sank a deep three-pointer for the first points of the game to give the Nitros (8-5) a lead they would hold tight to until late in the second period. Over the first stanza, one in which Ghazarian scored eight points, Glendale hit four of 11 shots.
But after a Mirzaeian layup opened the second-quarter scoring at the 7:32 mark and gave Glendale its largest lead of the contest at 14-7, the Nitros wouldn't make another shot from the field until Ghazarian hit a three with six seconds to go in the third quarter to cut Pasadena's advantage to 29-21.
Just as troubling as the Nitros' cold streak shooting was their similarly chilly spell on the boards.
With Glendale post Nina Sahakian, by far the Nitros' tallest player, relegated to the bench during the second quarter due to foul trouble, Pasadena outrebounded Glendale, 11-3, in the pivotal second stanza.
"We were doing OK until Nina came out and then we couldn't get a rebound," said Adary, whose leading rebounder was point guard Mirzaeian with eight.
In the second quarter, Pasadena outscored Glendale, 12-4, to turn a 12-7 first-quarter deficit for the Bulldogs into a 19-16 halftime lead.
The opening quarter saw Glendale implement a trap defense that confused and pestered Pasadena, which made just two field goals in the first eight minutes. But Sahakian's absence also hindered that.
"The trap was working," Adary said.
The absence of a post presence and perhaps the referees' discretion hindered Glendale on the defensive end. The Nitros were called for three controversial blocking fouls in the first quarter, the last ending when Ghazarian was bowled over.
"I can't blame the refs," Adary said. "It wasn't enough to blow the game out in the third and fourth."
Indeed, in the third and fourth — though Pasadena hitting seven of 13 free throws in the first half to just a four-of-six performance from Glendale might have caused the Nitros to be a bit more timid in their approach — the Bulldogs' brutish approach kept the Nitros out of the paint and cold from beyond it, while the Nitros' pesky defense waned a bit.
Pasadena outscored Glendale, 10-2, throughout the third until Ghazarian's three ended the stanza.
Glendale tried to mount a comeback at the fourth's onset, forcing three straight Pasadena turnovers, but the Nitros only had a pair of Ghazarian free throws to show for the span. The other two Nitros possessions saw them turn the ball back over and Ghazarian called for a travel, which Adary argued and was subsequently whistled for a technical foul. Pasadena promptly missed both free throws.
In all, 20 of Pasadena's points came in the paint, 11 on free throws and six on a pair of three-pointers — one of which went in on a bank and the second came on an off-balance leaner as the shot clock expired, perhaps emphasizing more than anything that nothing was going right for the Nitros.