ST. PETERSBURG — The ice bag on Kristine Fuller’s forehead was symbolic of Palm Harbor University’s night. The Hurricanes were bruised and battered by Lakewood 61-39 Friday in the PCAC championship.
The Spartans avenged a 51-48 regular-season loss at Palm Harbor on Monday night. That was the last time Lakewood had played, so it had all week to prepare for the rematch.
“They were livid about the way they played,” Lakewood coach Necole Tunsil said of her team’s performance Monday. “We watched film and it was insulting. We didn’t play the way we can play.
“In fact, we couldn’t have played any worse.”
The Spartans (14-10) couldn’t have played much better Friday night. They scored the first eight points and played stifling defense. The Hurricanes (22-3) didn’t score until midway through the quarter and trailed 15-6 going into the second quarter. Fuller, who averages 24 points, was held scoreless in the first quarter and had two fouls.
Things got much worse for PHU in the second quarter when Fuller banged heads with Lakewood’s Sydney-Taylor Heyward while battling for a rebound. Both players fell to the floor bleeding. They were brought to the training room for stitches and neither returned.
Fuller had two points when she left.
From there, the Spartans owned the inside. Kasey Drayton scored layup after layup and finished with a game-high 21 points. Alexis Ungro, who had been guarding Fuller, was able to slash to the basket for easy points and finished with 15.
Lakewood led 34-15 at halftime then started the third with a 13-2 run to blow open the game. Midway through the third Lakewood led by 31.
“We just couldn’t find a rhythm,” PHU coach Darian Dublin said. “And like I told the girls, Lakewood has been here before, we haven’t. We’re going to have to play twice as hard as we did on Monday.”
Drayton said her team wasn’t about to lose to the Hurricanes twice in the same week.
“We weren’t going to lose to them again,” she said. “We played better defense and we played harder. When it really matters we step up our intensity.”