BELLEVILLE — Faced with early foul trouble, the Belleville East Lancers were forced to get into the zone on defense.
Aniecia Brewster scored 24 points and Montira Mosby added 19 points as the Lancers used a tight zone defense to beat the O'Fallon Panthers 66-52 Friday in a Southwestern Conference game.
"In the second quarter, we're not usually a zone team, but we adjusted to playing the zone," East coach Andrea Seipp said. "It was the first time we had to play it most of the game, and I thought the girls did a good job."
Seipp said the Lancers prefer playing man-to-man defense.
"We've been working on (the zone defense) more than during previous years, just knowing it might be an option we need to look towards," Seipp said. "O'Fallon is a very fast team, so it's something we thought we might have to do."
The Lancers, who snapped a three-game losing streak, improved to 6-5 overall, 3-3 in the SWC.
"We talked as a team that three losses in a row, that wasn't acceptable to us," Seipp said. "Our last two were close -- two points (against East St. Louis) and one point (against Belleville West)-- and we really wanted to get back on the winning side."
The Panthers dropped to 2-5 overall, 1-4 in the SWC.
"She made an adjustment, she went to a zone, and there are times where we don't shoot the ball real consistently, as you saw," O'Fallon coach Ryan Massey said. "We settled for 15-, 20-foot jump shots there for two quarters. We didn't attack the rim."
The Panthers also hurt themselves with turnovers. They had 16 turnovers in the first half and 25 in the game.
"I don't want 16 in a game, and we had 16 in the first half," Massey said.
The Panthers were led by Jasmine Bonds with 18 points. She was 9-for-11 from the free-throw line.
Blair Butler chipped in 15 points.
"She's our best percentage free-throw shooter," Massey said of Bonds. "When she attacks the basket, she is very good. Tonight, she actually finished very well as well. She had a lot of nice driving layups and little floaters.
"She is just going to continue to get better with the more time she logs on the varsity level."
Montira Mosby, who poured in 27 points in a 69-49 win over the Panthers on Nov. 28, scored on a layup off the opening tip to help send the Lancers out to a 6-0 lead.
East got into some fast foul trouble as Brewer, Sadie Mosby and Montira Mosby all picked up their second fouls by midway through the opening quarter.
The Panthers came back to tie the score at 10-10 on a bank shot in the lane by Ciara Jones and then took a 12-10 lead on two free throws by Ally Warren with 23 seconds left in the first quarter.
"It was a tough first quarter, and they were frustrating fouls because a lot of them weren't very smart," Seipp said. "I was really proud of the girls who came off the bench. I thought Kelsey Smith was a great spark off the bench."
The Lancers scored 10 unanswered points to start the second quarter. A 3-pointer by Smith, who finished with 11 points, highlighted the run.
The Lancers' advantage grew to 28-16 on a layup by Brewster, but Butler hit a 3 with 30 seconds left in the second quarter to get the Panthers within 28-19.
The Panthers scored the first basket of the second half on a layup by Bonds.
The Lancers outscored the Panthers 19-7 over the rest of the third quarter to stretch their lead to 47-28.
A three-point play by Brewster with 16 seconds remaining in the third quarter capped the surge.
The Panthers got 3s from Jourdan Phillips and Bonds while creeping to within 14 points in the fourth quarter, but they were unable to get their deficit under double digits.
"It's all about the process," Massey said. "We're not winning the war tonight. Tonight was one battle in a long, 28-plus game season. It's all about growing and getting better.
"We're already seeing improvement in a lot of areas. We can score points. Tonight, they went zone, and if we're making buckets there early, maybe they get out of the zone real quick and it's a different story."
Contact reporter Steve Korte at email@example.com or 239-2522.