By Erik Boal
For The Signal
GARDEN GROVE — Canyon settled down in time Monday to survive the first Mater Dei run.
Rachel Bowers played well enough for the Cowboys girls basketball team to overcome the second surge by the Monarchs at the fifth annual Presión Showcase at Orangewood Academy.
But a three-point halftime deficit swelled to 21 after three quarters for Canyon, which couldn’t find another answer for Mater Dei’s pressure defense and depth in a 66-41 nonleague loss.
Canyon (16-4) committed 24 turnovers, including nine in the third quarter, when the Monarchs (13-3) produced a 12-0 run during a four-minute stretch to take control for good.
“I thought fatigue was a factor. They said after the game it wasn’t, but you can come back against a good team like this once. To do it multiple times is a challenge,” Canyon coach Jessica Haayer said. “They’re constantly rotating players in and they’re throwing different looks at you and you’re trying to find ways to adjust and it can be exhausting.”
The Cowboys trailed 22-10 early in the second quarter, before scoring 14 of the next 17 points to close the deficit to one with two minutes remaining in the first half.
Bowers had 11 points and six rebounds in the opening half, as the 6-foot-3 senior proved to be a challenge for Mater Dei inside. The Boise State signee finished with 21 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, but no other Canyon player scored more than five points.
The Monarchs picked up their intensity after halftime, scoring the first seven points of the third, before Bowers and Talia Taufaasau each made layups to help Canyon remain within striking distance at 39-28 with 4:30 remaining in the quarter.
Four Cowboys turnovers, combined with eight free throws, contributed to Mater Dei’s 12 unanswered points, as foul trouble and lack of depth hurt Canyon.
“They’re a good team and we’re a good team, so being able to come back is something we should be able to do, but it’s also something we need to continue to do,” said Taufaasau, who had five points and seven assists.
“Coming out of halftime, even if it was just for a couple of minutes, we let up and that ended up hurting us in the long run. Their pressure definitely took us out of our offense a little. You can try to simulate it in practice, but when you get into a game, it’s a totally different situation.”
Freshman Brooke Demetre led Mater Dei with 21 points and five steals, with Cailyn Crocker adding 13 points and Emma Torbert contributing 11 points and seven rebounds.
Selasi Mawugbe had four points and seven rebounds for Canyon, whose four losses have all come against opponents expected to be selected to compete in the CIF-Southern Section Open Division playoffs come February.
“This was a good game to help us prepare for the future, especially when it comes to the playoffs,” Haayer said. “This experience was much more valuable than if we had stayed home and practiced.”