Elizabeth Smith has scored nearly at-will against most opponents this season and is a defensive assignment that plagues most teams. Miami Valley was ready for the challenge on Thursday night and contained her enough to win.
Though Smith scored 23 points and surpassed 1,500 career points, Miami Valley used a big first half to help spark a 59-51 win in a Metro Buckeye Conference game.
Smith, a 5-foot-7 guard, averages 19.5 points and 10.2 rebounds per game and recorded a quadruple-double against Northeastern earlier this season. She has 1,501 career points after Thursday’s game and has been instrumental in leading the Bulldogs’ improvement after last season’s 2-21 record. Yellow Springs is 9-9 overall and 4-4 in the MBC.
“She’ll do everything you want her to do,” first-year Yellow Springs coach Tim Minnich said. “She can play in the post and has even asked to sometimes. She can play the one spot through the five, defend the one through the five, and is the best passer I’ve got. She leads every statistical category we have except for steals. I’ve been telling the college coaches they’re missing out because she can do anything you want her to do.”
Miami Valley held Smith to six points in the first half and built an insurmountable 35-18 lead. She scored 9 points during the first matchup between the two schools, which Miami Valley won by 16 points on Jan. 5.
“We’ve had to contain her for four years, so we’re pretty experienced at it,” Miami Valley coach Randy Duff said. “She can shoot 3-pointers from Arkansas. There in the second half, we had extended our zone and we were giving up some easy stuff inside. I called a timeout and asked the girls why they were defending the volleyball line. I told them to stop, and then (Smith) hits a 3 from there. You can’t defend that.”
Miami Valley set the tone early. The Rams took a 10-4 lead through the first four minutes after a series of layups after steals. Yellow Springs took two timeouts but failed to slow down the Rams before the second half.
Morgan Minnich hit a basket with 2:45 left in the fourth quarter to cut Miami Valley’s lead to 53-43, but the Rams prevented the score from getting any closer than 10 until a pair of free throws in the final five seconds.
Miami Valley improved to 14-3 overall with the win and 6-1 in the MBC. The Rams are poised to be one of the top seeds in the Monroe sectional tournament draw this Sunday.
“We purposely tried to set the schedule to where it tests us down the road late in the season,” Duff said. “We’re playing well right now, which is where we want to be before the tournament.”