Taylorsville • Five Davis seniors came to Salt Lake Community College on Monday never having won a state playoff game in their careers.
The prospects of ending that unlucky streak were looking a little rockier than expected one quarter in.
"Just jitters," Davis coach Ann Jones said. "We were nervous coming into state. [West] had no expectations on them, we do. It took us a while."
There were bumps early, but the final three quarters went more according to plan for the No. 1-seeded Darts, who rode a 27-point day by Jessica Richardson on the way to a 63-34 victory over West in the first round of the 5A state tournament.
Richardson, the team’s sure-footed center, had size that no one on West could bang with, and moves that made her nearly impossible to guard. The Panthers had two choices: let her score or foul. But no matter what they did, she hurt them.
"We just came out at half, and we said, ‘This could be our last game,’" Richardson said. "We had to get more physical."
The first quarter definitely was a wake-up call for Davis, which started out half-asleep. West was rebounding and pressuring with purpose, while the Darts seemed as though they expected to cruise.
But that attitude washed away as Davis suddenly found itself down 11-10 to start the second quarter. Richardson took over, scoring six straight points to kick off an 11-0 run that put the Darts up for good.
Others eventually joined in. It was a 12-point gap by halftime, and it was 20 after three quarters.
West had trouble breaking down a tough Davis zone, often putting up shots that bounced around everywhere but through the middle of the net. Penetration was all but impossible against the Darts’ superior length.
Davis had trouble getting up shots before the Panthers shot in for a foul. Besides her seven field goals, Richardson also starred at the charity stripe going 13 for 13.
Maddie Murphy was a bright spot for the otherwise sputtering West offense, finishing with 20 points.
Davis next faces Riverton on Wednesday in the second round.
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