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PAUL RODRIGUEZ, STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Mater Dei guard Nicole Freeman puts up the shot for the score in front of St. Mary's guard Carlissa Shipp, right, in the CIF State Open Division girls basketball championship on Saturday in Berkeley.

St. Mary's too much for Mater Dei in state final

STAFF WRITER

BERKELEY – It was a game of big shots.

St. Mary’s simply made more.

Mater Dei lost to St. Mary’s of Stockton, 76-69, Saturday in the CIF State Open Division championship game at Cal.

The Monarchs shot 50 percent from the field. They made six 3-pointers.

As Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan said, “Yeah, you would think that if we score 69 points and shoot 50 percent we’d win.”

Yes, but St. Mary’s made 12 3-pointers on 27 attempts. The Rams, armed with super-quick guards, got plenty of baskets inside, too.

“If we backed way off to stop their penetration, they’d hit some 3s,” Kiernan said. “We threw man-to-man defense at them, zone, box-and-one, everything we had to slow them down.”

Andee Velasco and Ally Rosenblum scored 20 points apiece for Mater Dei. Senior guard Velasco made four of Mater Dei’s six 3-pointers. Rosenblum, a junior forward, had a game-high 11 points.

Katie Lou Samuelson, who picked up national player of the year honors, scored 19 points with nine rebounds.

St. Mary’s ( 34-1) was No. 1 in the California top 20 going into the game. The Rams won their eighth state championship. Brea Olinda has the most girls state titles, with nine.

The state rankings, compiled by CalHiSports.com, had Mater Dei (31-3) at No. 2. The Monarchs are 4-2 in state championship games.

Mater Dei had a 10-point lead in the third quarter. St. Mary’s tied it, 54-54, with 49 seconds left in the quarter on a 3-pointer by Kat Tudor. Samuelson made a 3 seven seconds later to return the lead to the Monarchs.

But, with one second left in the quarter, Samuelson got her fourth foul. She sat out the first 90 seconds of the fourth quarter. When she did return, it just was not the same for her.

“If I didn’t have four fouls, I could try to step up and stop their drives,” Samuelson said. “But I couldn’t do that.”

St. Mary’s took the lead for good, 68-65, with 2:27 remaining on, of course, a 3-pointer. Carlissa Shipp made that one for the Rams.

After a Monarchs turnover, St. Mary’s pushed the lead to five when Aquira DeCosta scored inside.

Rosenblum's layup off of a fine pass from Samuelson made it 70-67 with 1:25 to go. But another St. Mary’s 3, this one by Tudor, expanded the Rams’ lead to six.

Another Rosenblum inside basket cut the Mater Dei deficit to four, 73-69. That would conclude the Mater Dei scoring.

Velasco’s four 3-pointers set a record for most 3s in a girls Open Division state final. CIF State Open Division finals began in 2013.

Mater Dei had a 38-33 lead at halftime.

The Monarchs scored 21 points in a fast-paced second quarter. Mater Dei and St. Mary’s combined to score 18 points over a two-minute span in the quarter. Velasco made two 3-pointers and scored three times on drives, including a couple of left-handed reserves by the right-handed, 5-foot-8 senior.

Samuelson got her third foul with 1:43 to go in the second quarter. Mater Dei had a 32-31 lead when that third personal sent her to the bench. But the Monarchs kept pushing, with 6-2 freshman Emma Torbert providing two inside baskets in the final moments of the quarter.

When Mater Dei beat Chaminade in the CIF Southern California Regionals finals, Samuelson did not score a basket until the fourth quarter. On Saturday, she made three baskets in the first quarter but saved her biggest reaction of the first half for a charge she took toward the end of the first quarter, a play that had Samuelson, seated on the court, pumping her fists. The Monarchs had a 17-11 lead at the end of the quarter.

Contact the writer: sfryer@ocregister.com


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