In 16 nonconference games, the Davis High girls basketball team had just two matchups decided by less than 10 points, and just one true close contest — a four-point win over Liberty a few days before Christmas.
And though the majority of those blowouts had the Lady Blue Devils on the winning side, DHS didn’t get much experience closing out tight games.
Now, six games into Delta Valley Conference play, the two Devils losses have been by a combined total of four points — including Tuesday’s 55-54 defeat on the road at Elk Grove.
The Thundering Herd (14-9, 4-2) got a deep 3-pointer from Madison Wong at the buzzer to knock off Davis (14-8, 4-2).
“You can’t take anything away from them. She made a deep three and we had a hand in her face. It was a great shot,” said Blue Devil coach Karen Foster. “We just have to learn to close out a game. Free throw (misses) really hurt us in the second half.”
After holding Elk Grove to six first-period points, the locals had a 26-17 advantage at intermission. But on a night when DHS made just 7-of-15 foul shots, five of those misses came in the fourth quarter.
And even with the Devils struggling from the line, it took huge performances from Wong (17 of her 20 points came in the second half) and Mira Shulman (14 of her 21 came after the break) to produce the slim victory.
“They really got hot in the second half,” Foster said. “We had a few too many turnovers and they really grabbed the momentum.”
But the Blue Devils had their own two-person show going as junior Emma Stenz had 18 points as part of a double-double and sophomore Sophie Seng scored 12 of her own. Meanwhile, Katie Grahn had nine points for DHS and Rachael Allison added eight.
With the contest knotted at 52-52 in the closing moments, Grahn and Stenz each made one of two from the charity stripe to put the locals ahead by two with just seven ticks left. But Elk Grove navigated through the Davis defense and Wong nailed the game-winner.
“It was back-and-forth, back-and-forth,” Foster said of the fourth quarter. “Sometimes you just come out on the losing end of a buzzer-beater.”
The Lady Blue Devils are back on the road Friday, taking on Franklin at 7 p.m. DHS topped the Wildcats, 53-42, on Jan. 21.