BURLINGTON -- In the first, third and fourth quarters of Tuesday night's Division I girls basketball semifinal at Patrick Gym, No. 2 Rice and No. 3 Mount Anthony played an even game, with each team scoring 31 points.
Unfortunately for Mount Anthony, the second quarter was the killer as Rice outscored the Patriots 16-3 in the frame and moved to the Division I final with a 47-34 win.
"In the second quarter, we didn't shoot the ball well," said Mount Anthony coach Brian Harrington. "Between that second and the rebounding advantage, that's what really cost us the game defensively, we did well, but the second quarter was what killed us."
After a back-and-forth first quarter that saw Rice go up 14-12, the Patriots went ice-cold from the field. Brinkley Legacy hit 1-of-2 from the foul line with 6:38 left in the half to make it 18-13, but the Knights went on a 10-0 run, capped off by a jumper from Michelle Bolger (4 points), and led 30-15 at intermission.
"It's all a blur right now," said MAU senior Kate Goodell. "Ii think we let them take control and slow down our pace."
In the first half overall, MAU went 6-for-33 (18.2 percent), while the Green Knights were 12-of-31, 38.7 percent. Hailee Barron had nine points and Sierra Combs seven in the opening 16 minutes of play.
"They had a lot of transition in the second quarter, running out after we missed long shots," said Harrington. "Some of the threes we were shooting beyond the college three-point line."
MAU was 1-for-17 from the floor in the period, Rice was 5-for-12.
But the Patriots weren't about to lay down and die. In the second half, using a press and trap defense, MAU caused a handful of turnovers and turned them into points, including baskets by freshman Brianna Legacy and Madison Little, as part of a 12-4 run to pull within single digits at 36-27 at the end of the third quarter.
"We talked about it at halftime, we said we have to give it all we've got, it's now or never," said Goodell, who scored 4 points. "We got it to single digits and we showed a lot of effort, I'm proud of the girls."
Then in the fourth, a three by Keira Goodell (five points) and a layup on the next possession from Brianna Legacy (game-high nine points) made it 40-32 with 5:48 to go and with some momentum, but Rice effectively took the air out of the ball, slowing the pace and forcing Mount Anthony to foul late.
But only Keira Goodell could find the basket for MAU in the final 5:48 of regulation and Barron hit five of six from the free-throw line to ice it.
"We had some injuries this year, three starters hurt coming in," said Barron, who led all scorers with 16. "Sierra Combs (7 points) stepped up in the big role, we needed all five to beat MAU."
Defensively, MAU's goal was to stop Barron, and they did a pretty good job as she went 5-of-13 from the field with nary an easy basket to be found.
"We had our three-headed monster -- Keira, Meghan and Brianna -- [rotating on her]," Goodell said. "They did a good job of anticipating what [Barron] was going to do.".
But at the same time, the Patriots were outrebounded 51-40 and had a high number of one-and-done possessions.
"[Barron] made a couple of good shots that good players make," Harrington said. "We did a good job to keep working hard in the second half."
Mount Anthony's season ends at 17-5, the most wins for the Patriots since 2008. They lose five seniors -- Kate Goodell, Brinkley Legacy, Makayla Farrara, Jenna Crowley and Carly Rogers.
"All the seniors set the tone and I give them credit for working hard all season, with smiles on their faces," Harrington said. "They reached a goal they had in mind to come up to [Patrick Gym]."
Goodell said despite the defeat, she was happy to reach the semifinal.
"We all went out and tried our best sometimes the shots fall and sometimes they don't," Goodell said. "On a night like this, everything's got to be perfect. We wanted it a lot, but we got this far and I'm extremely happy for that."