MARTINSBURG — Search through the age-old list of basketball adages or bromides and you’ll come across the one that says, “Teams that use pressure defenses don’t like to be pressed themselves.”
After a mostly even first half that had unbeaten Martinsburg just ahead of visiting Washington by just four points, the third quarter had the deep and player-rich Bulldogs employ a pressure defense that would give them a 72-58 win.
Washington had carved out a 7-2 record before seeing the Bulldogs in a game used to determine the overall seeding for the Class AAA Sectional tournament. Washington had gotten its seven wins with a much-in-evidence full court pressure defense of its own.
When the third quarter began last Friday at the Fieldhouse, Martinsburg clamped the Patriots in a pressure defense that wasn’t solved for too many minutes. Way too many minutes.
The quick-handed, quick-moving Bulldogs manufactured the first 16 points of that form-reversal third quarter. A scant four-point lead had been expanded all the way to 45-25. And the turnover-causing pressure employed against a team that had done its share of pressing was the game-decider.
Martinsburg’s long roster of useful players heavily outweighed Washington’s short list of six possible contributors. There had been 10 Bulldogs doing enough defending, scoring, rebounding, and harassing while Washington’s lean crew of six not only was tamed by the turnover-causing pressure but had another important game where its free throw shooting was crippling.
In its earlier losses, the Patriots were dragged down by missed free throws. Against the Bulldogs, Washington went a paralyzing 8-for-22 from the foul line or 36.4 percent.
Martinsburg certainly didn’t win the night at the foul line with its 4-for-9 (44 percent) showing, but its defense — especially in the third quarter — had provided it with enough close-in shots to go 32-for-61 (52.5 percent) from the floor.
Jalen Lewis (21 points, Brian Hairston (14 points), Jordan Robinson (nine points and nine renounds) and Elisha Freeman (eight points) had plenty of outcome-deciding help from six others. Washington’s Dominique Newman had his moments and his 18 points but didn’t shoot particularly well from any angle including a 1-for-5 showing from the foul line. And Kendell Smith was able to score 15 points on 6-for-15 from the field and 4-for-7 from the foul line. Maleke Jones was able to score 10 points, missing only one field goal attempt in his six tries.
Turnovers — earlier caused by the Patriots against lesser opponents — were inflicted by the Bulldogs this time. And 16 straight points to begin the third quarter decided the outcome long before the final seconds left the Fieldhouse scoreboard.