NEW MIDDLETOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The Springfield Tigers had to turn up the defensive pressure to start the second half of their game against the McDonald Blue Devils to win.  That intensity resulted in three quick Blue Devils turnovers and a 12-0 run for the Tigers as they pulled away for a 70-58 victory.

The win improves the Tigers to 11-3 on the season, 6-2 in the MVAC.  The loss drops the Blue Devils to 6-5 on the year, 3-3 in the league.

The Tigers desperately needed the win following two consecutive losses to league rivals Jackson-Milton and Waterloo this past week.  For the Devils, the game displayed a marked improvement of a young squad.

“This game means a lot actually.  It helps our confidence since we lost the last couple of games,” Tigers senior guard Kaila LaMorticella said.  “This game definitely got our heads back on track and we are ready to keep it going.”

“We are getting better and better every game,” Blue Devils coach Tony Matisi said.  “A lot of young kids out here learning.  It’s pretty exciting from where we started.  It is fun to watch them start understanding the game a little bit.  We weren’t even competitive the first time and we probably played our best offensive game tonight.”

The Tigers were led by Jacey Mullen as she scored 21 points and grabbed 12 rebounds.  Jameka Brungard added 17 points and 9 caroms while Madison Lesnak scored 14 with LaMorticella adding 12 points.

With the Tigers only leading by two at halftime, they utilized a full-court press on the Devils to start the second half which resulted in three quick turnovers and a 12-0 run powered by two treys by LaMorticella and Lesnak to stake them to a 46-32 lead at the 5:41 mark of the third period.

“The first four minutes.  That was the ball game right there,” Tony Matisi exclaimed.  “They converted a couple three’s and just like that, it got out of hand.  That was a learning experience.  You can’t compound one mistake with another.  But we will be ok.”

“We switched our press up a little bit.  They were going four up and getting us over the top so we kind of moved it to get the backline back a little bit.  (Lucia) Wolford is such a good player so we didn’t want her to get loose.  We put three girls to her side just trying to keep her from getting it,” Tigers coach John Matisi said with a chuckle.

The Tigers began the game by racing out to a 10-4 lead, but the Devils kept the game close as the Tigers held a 16-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.  The Tigers would push their lead to 8-points at 29-21 with 3:23 left in the first half when Lesnak connected on her first of two three-pointers in the game.  But the Devils responded with an 11-5 run to close the first half to make it 34-32 in favor of the Tigers at the break.

After the Tigers exploded to that quick 12-point advantage to start the second half, they would methodically build on the lead until they reached a game-high 20-point advantage at 59-39 with 2:01 left in the quarter following a put-back basket by Mullen.

The Blue Devils never quit though as they cut the deficit down to 13-points at 61-48 by the end of the third period.  They would also outscore the Tigers 10-9 in the final period to reach the 12-point final margin.

Alivia Morrison matched Mullen with a game-high 21 points and 7 rebounds to lead the Blue Devils on the night.  Lucia Wolford added 19 points for the Devils.

The Tigers will next play at Hubbard next Wednesday.  The Blue Devils play at Lowellville this Saturday in their next game.