Despite a sloppy first quarter, Mater Dei cruised to a 56-31 victory over visiting Collinsville on Saturday afternoon. The Knights (12-0) led by 12 at halftime.
"We were sluggish at the beginning, but we really picked it up," said Mater Dei senior Emily Koelling, who had a game-high 18 points. "You have to have the defense to score on offense and our defense always picks it up when we're struggling on offense."
Two free throws by Anna Lampe gave Mater Dei a 9-4 lead after one quarter, but the Knights looked out of sync offensively.
"This was our third game of the week and our kids had exams and we had a couple days off from practice, so it's going to get a little sluggish once in a while," Mater Dei coach Dave Kohnen said. "I think Collinsville played well and got some good things out of their players.
"Our defense was pretty good for the most part. I didn't like our fouling, but we'll clean that up."
A layup by Madeline Lager boosted Mater Dei's lead to 27-13 with 16 seconds remaining in the second quarter. A layup by Collinsville's Kassidy Smith made the score 27-15 at halftime.
Collinsville (5-6) wasn't able to take advantage of Mater Dei's early struggles, due in part to 13 turnovers in the first half.
"Turnovers are a problem for us," said Kahoks coach Lori Billy, whose squad had 22 turnovers for the game. "At the beginning of the season, we were averaging about 30. That's not much of an improvement, but it's some."
Two free throws by Koelling put Mater Dei ahead 44-25 after three quarters. Collinsville never got closer than 19 points in the fourth quarter.
"I think maybe people have underestimated us a little bit because we lost a lot from last year," Koelling said. "We work hard in practice and we don't take anybody lightly."
Lampe added 11 points for Mater Dei, which will play O'Fallon at 4 p.m. Thursday in the first round of the Mascoutah Invitational. Lager and Avoyanna Kampwerth combined for 14 points off the bench.
"I've been saying all year that our bench is very good," Kohnen said. "If you can't get some performance out of those players, you're going to be in trouble."
Lexie Thompson led Collinsville with seven points. The Kahoks were 11-for-35 from the field and six-for-14 from the free throw line.
"We've got 11 days before our next game and we're going to work on being a lot better defensively and being able to get some boards," Billy said. "I don't think they hit many first shots, but we gave them a lot of second and third shots."