By HOWARD SENZELL
FOR THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
WINDSOR — Cardinal Newman’s girls, in a must-win situation on the road Tuesday night, defeated Windsor, 45-38.
Newman (12-1) can tie Santa Rosa (13-0) for the North Bay League title by beating the visiting Panthers Thursday night.
“Before the game we didn’t talk about needing to win to stay in contention for the league title,” Newman coach Monica Mertle said.
“Everyone knew how important the Windsor game was, so I didn’t even bring it up.
“I told them we need to play as hard as we can and that’s what the girls did.”
The Cardinals took the lead for good, 12-11, when Kylie Kiech hit a layup to end the first quarter.
The Jaguars trailed 22-20 in the opening seconds of the third quarter. After Hayden Turrini’s bucket, Windsor went nearly five minutes without scoring. The Cardinals opened a nine-point lead.
The Jaguars got within six with just under four minutes to play but could get no closer.
Sophomore Tiffany Salinas led Newman with 12 points while freshman Hailey Vice-Neat contributed 11. Vice-Neat scored her team’s first five points in the final period.
The Windsor offense was led by center Jessica Barbosa. She had 15 and Kerianne Noonan contributed 10.
Both coaches agreed the Cardinals’ defense was the difference in the game.
“We knew Newman would play a halfcourt set defense,” Jaguars coach Jeff Paul said. “So our plan was to get into a fast-paced game and score in transition before they got set.
“We’ve had trouble making outside shots all season. Our defense was good but you’re not going to win many games scoring in the 30s.”
The Cardinals played man defense.
“Our defense was fantastic,” Mertle said. “When a player needed help, help was there.The girls were awesome.”
Kylie Dutton and Britta Irvine were especially effective taking turns on point guard Noonan.
“Our defense is becoming more consistent,” Mertle said. “The girls realize how important it is to the team’s success.”
The Cardinals have held their last six opponents under 50 points.
The last team to score more than 50 was Santa Rosa. The Panthers put up 16 while winning, 57-41, on Jan. 24.
Newman’s overall record is 19-6.
Windsor drops to 19-6 and 9-4 in league.