Janesville Craig’s girls basketball team was every bit the equal of Madison Edgewood’s for 33 minutes Tuesday.
But the momentum the Cougars had generated during the second half suddenly dissipated, and several late turnovers helped the Crusaders escape.
Baluck Deang scored 22 points on the best offensive night of her young career, helping offset the loss of Ella Foti, as Edgewood defeated Craig 62-56 in a nonconference game Tuesday at Craig High.
The Cougars (7-7) weren’t intimidated by the Crusaders (11-3), the reigning Division 3 state champions. Craig found its shooting rhythm during a second half that featured eight lead changes, but missed two shots in the final minute.
“They’re state champions,” Craig coach Kerry Storbakken said after his team was out-scored 9-3 in the final three minutes Tuesday. “We’re right there. We missed some shots at the end, but we were right there toe to toe with Edgewood.”
Sophomore Cassie Goswick led the Cougars with 17 points, and gave the home team its final lead of the night, 53-51, on a corner 3-pointer with 4:55 to play.
Caitlin Link, a Southern Illinois commit, made a pair of free throws to tie the game 30 seconds later.
The Crusaders took the lead for good when Deang sank two foul shots with 2:48 left. The 6-foot-1 freshman used a strong left hand to dominate inside the paint.
“We’re not very big,” Storbakken said. “She (Deang) got loose a bit, but I think, defensively, our kids played great.”
Edgewood lost starter Foti to an apparent leg injury with about two minutes left in the first half. The freshman entered Tuesday averaging 15.1 points per game. Deang and Link picked up the slack by scoring 28 of Edgewood’s 35 second-half points.
Claudia Fieiras scored 13 points for Craig, while Emily Pierson finished with 12 points on four 3s.
Craig will finish the regular season with eight straight Big Eight Conference games. The Cougars travel to Madison East on Thursday and welcome Sun Prairie on Saturday.
MADISON EDGEWOOD 62, JANESVILLE CRAIG 56
Edgewood (62)—Foti 3-2-8, Iglar 1-0-2, Olson 1-1-3, Deang 7-7-22, Link 3-11-18, Schauer 1-0-2, Lazar 3-0-7. Totals: 19-21-62.
Craig (56)—Pierson 4-0-12, Parkhurst 1-0-2, Elgas 2-2-6, Fieiras 6-1-13, Goswick 7-1-17, Dunlavy 2-1-6. Totals: 22-5-56.
Edgewood 25 37—62
Craig 21 35—56
3-point goals—Craig 7 (Pierson 4, Goswick 2, Dunlavy 1), Edgewood 3 (Deang, Link, Lazar). Free throws missed—Edgewood 5, Craig 4. Total fouls—Craig 16, Edgewood 11.