Jaylice Rosario leads Wilbur Cross past Amity

NEW HAVEN — Over the first 16 minutes, Amity was able to bring the ball up without much trouble and the Spartans had a five-point halftime lead.

But when Wilbur Cross coach Tyrees Thomas changed things at halftime and employed a halfcourt trap with a 1-2-2 defense, everything changed dramatically. And Wilbur Cross (6-2) went on a 16-0 turnover-fueled spurt to break the game wide open and the Governors knocked off Amity, 64-45, Tuesday night at the Floyd Little Athletic Center.

“In the first half, we played at their tempo,” Thomas said. “I told the girls at halftime we were going to pick the pace up and go with a trap and a 1-2-2. That changed the game.”

Trailing 24-19 at the break, and then 26-23 with 5:41 to play in the third quarter, Amity couldn’t get the ball past halfcourt at all as the trio of April Artis (14 points), Jaylice Rosario (22 points) and Dejah Middleton (16 points) kept stealing the ball and turned it into points.

“I was just waiting for the right time,” Thomas said. “I scouted them and saw they had trouble with the 1-2-2, but I didn’t want to do it too early in the game.”

Rosario started the run with a pair of free throws and then Artis had four steals in the run that she turned into layups as Wilbur Cross took a 39-26 edge with 2:31 remaining in the third quarter.

“We found out who their shooter is and put pressure on them,” Artis said. “And we found out they couldn’t handle the ball.”

A trey by Jayne Whitman to close out the quarter and pulled Amity to within single digits, 42-33.

The Governors broke the game open when they went on an 11-2 spurt to start the fourth quarter with Rosario scoring five straight points to make it 53-35.

From that point on, Amity struggled to get any semblance of offense going.

“We were controlling the pace of the game and then they did,” Amity coach Michelle Shoop said. “We needed to do a better job of taking it back.”

Early on, Wilbur Cross dominated the first quarter, taking an 11-6 lead when Middletown had a layup after collecting the rebound of her own shot.

But after starting the night cold from behind the three-point arc, Amity started connecting in the second quarter as Skylar Burzynski, Meghan Smith and Whitman each canned treys in the opening two minutes of the quarter. That gave Amity the lead, 15-12.

The Spartans pushed their lead to six, 20-14, when Whitman hit her second three-pointer of the quarter from the right corner with 3:37 left until intermission.

A pair of free throws and a trey from the left side by Middleton allowed Wilbur Cross to close it to 22-19 with 1:50 until the break. Whitman’s jumper from the top of the key made it 24-19 at halftime.

“We struggled with making layups and our free throws in the first quarter,” Artis said. “Then we found out they couldn’t handle our bigs and we were able to finish down low.”

Wilbur Cross has now won its last three contests.

“We took two early losses — a buzzer beater to Sacred Heart and losing to your rival here at Hillhouse,” Thomas said. “But the last few games we’ve been playing good basketball and I like the tempo we’re playing at.”

Amity fell to 6-2 with the loss.

“They are a very talented team — big and long — and have a lot of threats,” Shoop said. “I knew it would be a struggle today.”