GIRLS' BASKETBALL: West Haven holds on to beat Foran in nail-biter

MILFORD — For years, West Haven girls’ basketball coach Jim Eagan has had a simple formula for success — hitting easy shots, making free throws, taking care of the ball and playing solid defense.

None of the four was done well Tuesday night in Milford. Fortunately for Eagan and his team, the Westies had just enough to hang on and defeat the Lions 44-42 at Foran High.

“We had no reason to win this game,” Eagan said after his team improved to 7-1. “I can put this speech on a recorder. You have to make your foul shots, make your easy shots and keep the turnovers at a reasonable number. We average 29 turnovers a game. How we won I don’t know.

“We are awful shooting free throws. We do not protect the basketball. We get distracted with easy shots. We are fortunate to win this game.”

Trailing by two points at the half after Foran’s Jasmin Rodriquez hit a shot at the buzzer, West Haven opened the third quarter on a 13-0 run.

Talisha Martinez gave West Haven the lead for good at 27-24 with a 3-pointer and McKenzie Farquharson and Jayva Johnson each added four points as the Westies took a 35-24 lead.

“We put the triangle-and-two in yesterday and spent an hour and 15 minutes of a two-hour practice on it,” Eagan said. “It won the game for us today.”

Behind Rodriquez who scored all seven of the Lions’ points in the third quarter, Foran trailed only 37-31 with 8 minutes to play.

“To me, in this league, you scout people and take away their tendencies,” Foran coach Scott Nails said after his team fell to 3-5. “They did a good job with their triangle-and-two to stop Jasmin (Rodriquez). Alyssa Pucilli did a good job tonight hitting 3s.

“But, we allowed Jayva Johnson all the put backs. This is the second straight year she has killed us. She killed us on the glass with 12 rebounds.”

Jayva Johnson came up big for West Haven, especially in the second half with eight points.

Johnson’s basket early in the fourth quarter gave West Haven a 40-33 lead. Farquharson and Martinez followed with baskets to increase the lead to 44-38 with 4 minutes to go but West Haven never scored again.

“We miss too many easy shots,” Eagan said.

A basket by Foran’s Teneya McLaughlin with 1:26 remaining and another by Maggie Folsom 22 seconds later had the Lions within two points. West Haven went into a stall and after Johnson missed a free throw with 11 seconds remaining, Foran had one last chance.

The Lions never capitalized.

Mykelle Coleman came up with a steal in the final 2 seconds to secure the win for West Haven.

“If someone walked in and came into the locker room, they would say what did you get beat by?,” Eagan said. “I am happy with that. Because the girls are upset in there knowing they did not play well.

“Sometimes you have to be lucky to win games. Good teams find ways to win. They are a well-coached team. We have to get better.”

Foran jumped out to an early lead and took a 15-11 advantage after one quarter of play.

Paced by Pucilli’s eight points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter, Foran led by four after Pucilli drained a basket with 2 seconds to go in the opening quarter.

McLaughlin and Rodriquez combined for all nine of the Lion points in the second quarter, with a buzzer-beater by Rodriquez giving the Lions a 24-22 halftime lead. Foran was hurt at the free-throw line, hitting just 2-of-8 shots in the second quarter.

Rodriquez led all scorers with 16 points for the Lions. Pucilli added 11 and McLaughlin had seven in the loss.

Johnson was West Haven’s leading scorer with 13 points, Farquharson scored 11 and Martinez scored six.

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