LORDSTOWN - For much of Monday night's game between Lordstown and Mathews, the Mustangs hung around and refused to go away.
The Red Devils finally got the push they needed behind Sarah Cash's game-high 28 points to put Mathews away, 58-46.
"We actually stepped up our defense," Lordstown coach Dave Smith said of how his team earned the victory. "We got a few steals, made some easy shots. We actually missed a bunch early. Missed a bunch of layups. (Mathews) hit a lot of open shots. They hit some 3s."
Mustangs coach Veronica Titus said Lordstown's slow-down offense forced a change in defense and proved to be the difference to her team.
"They capitalized on our mistakes to start the third quarter and really with them wanting to stall the ball they held the ball for 3 minutes at the end of the third quarter," she said. "I wasn't satisfied trying to lose; It was a seven-point game. We had to go out and man them up. That's what the difference was. It (the deficit) went from eight to 12."
Mathews (8-11) fell behind 34-25 with 5:27 remaining in the third quarter but pulled to within 34-30 on baskets by Dayna Ellis and Jacki Rhine. Cash followed with six points, including a steal and layup, that gave Lordstown a 40-30 advantage late in the third. Mathews got no closer than five points the rest of the way.
"I think I played well, but there's some times that I turn the ball over a lot," Cash said. "We just need to practice on that so that next time we play Mathews we can beat them."
"She comes to play every day," Smith said. "Couldn't ask for a more dedicated player that works hard. Every night she comes to play."
It was part of a stretch in which Cash scored 10-consecutive points for her team.
Titus said not having to try and defend Cash again is a big help to the Mustangs the rest of the season.
"I don't think I have someone as good as Sarah Cash to play against, so I think I'll have a little more luck with that," Titus said.
The Mustangs fell behind 20-14 in the second quarter but fought back for the lead. Consecutive baskets by Natalie Halavick, Ellis and Maddie Williams tied the game 22-22, and Halavick hit a 3-pointer for a 25-24 lead, Mathews' first since 3-2.
Cash, however, scored with 4.6 seconds left in the half to give Lordstown (16-4) a lead it never relinquished.
With two games remaining in the regular season, Smith said the Red Devils have more work to do in preparation for the tournament.
"We're definitely going to have to work on teams that are playing the box and one," he said. "We've been seeing a lot of zones against us, them packing it in."