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This might have been the victory signaling to the rest of the Maryland Junior College Conference that the College of Southern Maryland Hawks have arrived as a women’s basketball program.

Wednesday, the Hawks pulled off a 58-51 upset of Montgomery College on the road in Takoma Park for their second Maryland JUCO win in three games.

The Hawks (3-6, 2-3 MD JUCO) outlasted a Montgomery outfit (7-5, 2-1) that is among the league elite, coming off an impressive season a year ago when it was 24-8 overall and a third-place 9-2 in the talent-laden conference. CSM was 8-13, 4-7 in the Maryland JUCO, a season ago in rebuilding mode and was swept handily by Montgomery in two meetings, including a 102-68 loss on the road.

“This was a big win for our program,” CSM head coach Andy Norris said. “It was a total team effort. When someone made a mistake, her teammates were there to pick her up. I’m very happy for our players. They deserved this win. Hopefully with this game, we now have an understanding of what kind of effort it takes to be competitive in this league and that we have the talent to accomplish a lot of good things if our effort is there and we play as a team.”

The statement win also represented a great bounce-back effort by the Hawks.

Monday saw the Hawks own a 10-point lead with 4 minutes 45 seconds left against Frederick, only to sustain a 71-69 shortcoming at home. Had the Hawks held on to their late, seemingly commanding lead, they would be on a three-game win streak heading into their next contest a week from today against Maryland JUCO opponent Garrett on its floor.

“We’ve tried to stress the importance of playing hard on every possession and not giving away possessions on both ends of the court,” Norris said. “We’ve had a couple tough games lately I feel we let slip away and should have won had we played harder. We just gave away too many possessions throughout the game that cost us [against Frederick].

“Our team played like I thought they were capable of playing as far as our effort, togetherness, and competitiveness and beat a very good Montgomery team who is always in the top of our league. They have an outstanding team again this year.”

CSM forwards Taylor White (North Point), Maekala Bryant (North Point) and Taylor Superior (Leonardtown) spearheaded the avenging performance over Montgomery.

White led the Hawks victory with a massive double-double of 18 points and 22 points while blocking four shots.

Bryant tallied 13 points and 18 rebounds along with an imposing eight blocks.

And Superior almost provided a third double-double player for the Hawks with 12 points and nine rebounds.

“Maekala Bryant and Taylor White were both huge for us,” Norris said. “Montgomery had a couple of great post players and [Bryant and White] went toe-to-toe with them and battled all night long. They used a box-and-one [defense] on [White] for the majority of the game. They tried to keep the ball out of her hands and she still had 18 and 22. Our guards and other post players did a great job of finding [White] when they needed to.”

He added, “Taylor Superior was great as well. This was her second game back with the team after being with the [CSM women’s] soccer team that went to nationals in Florida. She was all over the place.”

Montgomery was ahead at halftime, 23-20, before CSM outplayed its favored opponent in the second half as the offensive pace picked up. The Hawks boasted the final seven points of the game over the final 3 minutes 43 seconds to come away victoriously.

“Coming into the game, [Montgomery] was averaging 77 points per game and just under eight threes while shooting 42 percent from [three-point land] as a team,” Norris said of Montgomery. “We were able to hold them to 51 points and two threes for the game.”

The game was tied at 51 with 3 1/2 minutes left when CSM guard Siara Jackson drained a pull-up jumper along the baseline from 17 feet out. Norris described the Jackson bucket, giving his team a 53-51 lead, as “huge.”

Two possessions later, Jackson’s impact play continued as she drove into the lane and kicked the ball out to Superior, who finished the perfect pass by knocking down another jumper for the Hawks.

Jackson finished with seven points and seven rebounds in addition to her key assist.

Point guard Alex Fennell added six points, five assists and five steals for CSM. Forward Khristen Avery rounded out the Hawks scoring with two points along with a pair of assists.

CSM had an early 8-2 lead before trailing at intermission.

Montgomery flexed its muscle to open the second half and took an 11-point lead with about 13 minutes left.

“Our kids never gave up; there was no panic,” Norris said. “We called a timeout and out of the timeout we outscored them by 18 over the last 13 minutes of the game.”

dcogle@somdnews.com