ST. LOUIS – During a basketball season littered with bouts of adversity, the production from sophomores Masyn McWilliams and Tyeshia Mitchell continues to rise.
The Mineral Area women delivered a solid defensive effort with a slightly thinner bench on Wednesday evening, and outlasted host St. Louis 61-43.
McWilliams scored 18 of her 26 points after halftime, and Mitchell totaled 16 points and eight rebounds while helping the Lady Cardinals pull away.
Mineral Area (14-7) needed strong minutes from its starters with top reserve guard Riana Rangi-Brown already unavailable to play due to injury.
The situation was further magnified when sophomore guard Natalia Lalic limped to the bench with two minutes left in the third quarter and did not return.
St. Louis (5-11) entered the contest in a similar position with seven active players, and stayed within 48-38 when Ronne’zja Elliott began the final stanza with a 3-pointer.
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McWilliams answered with a triple moments later, and added two more while powering MAC across the finish line with 11 points in a closing 13-3 run.
She also netted transition layups off steals and assists from Ruby Benn and Angela Sorrell in the second half, as the Lady Cardinals increased a 32-24 lead to 46-31.
Janet Garrett paced the Archers with 13 points, while Elliott added nine and Ashalei Hughes chipped in eight more. The home team was an excellent 9-of-10 from the line.
Mitchell secured two offensive rebounds on the opening possession, and Mineral Area jumped ahead 8-0 on a Keanna Williams putback after McWilliams and Lalic connected from long range.
Elliott scored in transition to bring St. Louis closer at 20-17, but Mitchell finished a flashy assist from Lalic before attacking on a 3-point play to highlight her 10-point second quarter.
The newest member of the MAC roster made her college basketball debut as Sydni Basler – the career scoring leader at Valle Catholic High School – was on the court for the last four minutes.
Basler completed her second season with the volleyball program last fall, and fills a vacancy created by the departure of two players earlier this month.
Mineral Area will face State Fair for Homecoming on Saturday at 5 p.m.