Janesville Craig’s girls basketball team one-upped itself Saturday.
Two days after holding Big Eight Conference-leading Middleton to 19 first-half points, the Cougars held visiting Madison West without a field goal before halftime.
The Cougars gave up just five free throws over the first 18 minutes and ran away with a 64-26 victory on Bob Suter Court.
“It was fun. I think we played really good team defense, and that helped us a lot,” Cougars junior guard Sarah Gregg said. “It didn’t feel like (we had held them without a basket), but I think we were just trying to play good defense and keep it low-scoring.”
Craig improved to 6-5 overall and 3-5 in league play. West fell to 1-11 and 0-8.
The Cougars were hardly pristine at the offensive end in the first half, but given their defensive effort, it hardly mattered. West missed all 16 of its first-half shot attempts and turned the ball over 15 times as Craig built a 28-5 lead at the break.
Cougars sophomore Claudia Fieiras had a 7-0 run of her own midway through the half that made it 21-2. She finished with a game-high 22 points.
The Regents made their first two shot attempts of the second half but never got closer than within 21 points.
Fieiras’ second 7-0 run of the game made it 39-9, and Craig went to the bench liberally from that point on.
“We have to play good defense, and we have all year, really,” Cougars head coach Kerry Storbakken said. “We go on droughts a little bit sometimes, but our defense has been good. To hold a team without a basket (in a half) in Big Eight basketball, I don’t care who you’re playing, that’s pretty good.”
Senior Emily Pierson added 10 points for Craig, while no West player scored more than five points.
Craig came in allowing just over 50 points per game. It has allowed more than 60 just twice in its first 11 games.
“I think the past few games we’ve really come together as a team on defense,” Gregg said. “We always know when to help each other and back each other up.
“The better teams we play, if we play good defense, we’ve got a better chance.”
Craig, which played mostly man-to-man defense early in the year, has now shown it can play an effective zone, as well. Middleton made just four 3-pointers—all in the second half—against the Cougars’ 2-3 zone on Thursday night. And Craig showed both styles of defense against West.
“We switch it up a lot, and we enjoy that,” Gregg said.
The Cougars’ defense will be tested Tuesday night, when they host No. 6-ranked Madison Memorial.
CRAIG 64, WEST 26
West (26)—Jankovich 2-1-5, Brown 1-3-5, Blehert 1-0-2, Fleming 2-0-5, Mueller 1-2-4, Kettleson 1-1-3, Culver 1-0-2. Totals: 9-7-26.
Craig (64)—Gregg 2-0-5, Mergener 2-1-6, Ingalls 1-0-3, Pierson 3-3-10, Arrowood 1-0-2, Parkhurst 2-3-7, Elgas 2-1-5, Fieiras 8-3-22, Dunlavy 2-0-4. Totals: 23-11-64.
Madison West 5 21—26
Janesville Craig 28 36—64
3-point goals—West 1 (Fleming), Craig 7 (Fieiras 3, Gregg, Mergener, Ingalls, Pierson). Free throws missed—West 9, Craig 9. Total fouls—West 16, Craig 16.