LAFAYETTE -- Injuries have whittled down the Alexander Dawson girls basketball lineup this season. Playing with only seven players, an early hole doomed the Mustangs on Thursday night.
In a 43-37 loss to Denver West, a Class 4A team, the 2A Mustangs had to fight from behind for all 32 minutes on their home floor. They nearly did, but fatigue and the deficit eventually proved too difficult to overcome.
"We're disappointed in how it turned out. Of course everyone wants to win," Dawson post player Lindsey Gallop said. "I feel like we're pretty evenly-matched with that team, we just need to put together a full game."
After arriving 30 minutes after the scheduled tip-off, the Cowboys hopped off the bus hot and jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first two minutes. By halftime, however, the Mustangs trailed only 21-18 behind some tough play from post players Gallop and Nicole Towner.
Against the undersized Cowboys, both Gallop, 5-11, and Towner, 5-10, were dominant in the paint. Gallop, a freshman, led the Mustangs with a double-double (12 points, 15 rebounds) and Towner nearly matched her with eight points and 12 rebounds.
"I think height is generally an advantage for me because I'm 5-11," said Gallop, who also blocked three shots. "We try to use that to our advantage against the shorter teams."
Sophomore Fiona Bell, the Mustangs' leading scorer at 11.9 points per game, left the game with a nosebleed two minutes into the second half after getting sandwiched between two Cowboys in the post. She re-entered to start the fourth quarter and scored four points of her total six points.
The Mustangs cut the deficit to two with 46.4 seconds left. But Cowboys guard Angelique Ocon made an uncontested layup that put the Cowboys up 41-37 and deflated the comeback.
"We dug ourselves in a hole but we told ourselves we could quit four minutes into the game," Towner said. "We had to play our hardest and get out of that hole. There's always some fatigue but at the same time you also get more adrenaline."
The Cowboys jumped on the Mustangs to open each quarter. They opened the first on a 10-0 run, scored four quick points in the second, four more unanswered in the third and five in the fourth.
"We had a hard time getting going today and I don't know if it was a combination of the game being funky, going through the whole warm-up and they weren't here," Dawson coach Jessica Mitchell said. "Or maybe they were just tired. I don't know what happened but going down 10 at the beginning is deflating.
The Mustangs also turned the ball over 27 times and missed 13 free throws.
The Mustangs have lost five of their last six games. They're back in action on Tuesday at home against Union Colony Prep.
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Denver West 43, Alexander Dawson 37
At Alexander Dawson HS
DENVER WEST (4-6, 0-0)
Crespin 3 3-7 10, Gavin 0 0-1 0, Copeland 3 0-2 8, Ocon 5 3-11 13, Wainess 2 2-2 7, K. Gallegos 0 0-0 0, Rivas 1 2-2 5, Wiley 0 0-0 0, Huerta 0 0-0 0, Hale 0 0-0 0. Totals 14 10-23 43.
ALEXANDER DAWSON (2-5, 0-1)
Powers 1 1-2 3, Desai 1 0-0 2, Barrett 0 0-3 0, Gallop 6 0-0 12, Towner 4 0-5 8, Claire 2 2-4 6, Bell 2 2-4 6. Totals 16 5-18 37.
Score by quarters:
Denver West 14 7 7 15 -- 43
Alexander Dawson 10 8 5 14 -- 37
3-point field goals -- Denver West (5): Copeland 2, Crespin, Wainess, Rivas; Alexander Dawson (0): None. Total fouls -- Denver West 15, Alexander Dawson 16. Fouled out -- None. Technical fouls -- None.