BRISTOL - With scoring hard to come by, St. Paul junior Morgan Kolb scored 10 straight points to give the No. 3-seed Falcons their first lead of Monday’s Class M state tournament first round girls basketball game with 21.4 seconds remaining in the third quarter.
That lead held up as Kolb’s 18 points led St. Paul to a 44-37 victory over No. 30 Oxford.
“I felt pretty good and confident,” Kolb said. “Overall, as a team, we worked really hard and I just wanted to contribute and help us get the win.”
Sophomore Jade Udoh added eight points and was a force on the defensive end of the floor with six blocks in the game for the Falcons.
With much of the defensive attention from the Wolverines on her in the post, Udoh did a nice job finding her teammates on the outside or looking for a cutter to get a layup.
“Jade did a great job of passing out of the post,” St. Paul head coach Joe Mone said. “We were trying to get some backdoor cuts off the extended zone and she helped us with that. A lot of time with bigs all you think about is how they rebound and score in the post. But with Jade, she can create offense for other people. I think that is one of the biggest things that helps us.”
The game didn’t start out as the Falcons would have hoped, though.
Turnovers by St. Paul led to points on the other end by the Wolverines. Oxford’s Molly Sastrum used her length to her advantage, often tipping passes or stealing the ball on her own. Sastrum scored the first six points of the game to get the Wolverines out to the early lead.
Udoh finally got the Falcons on the board midway through the first quarter with a basket down low.
While St. Paul pulled within three points at one time, the Wolverines’ Molly Smith knocked down her first of two 3-pointers in the opening half.
Molly Hooks and Udoh fueled a 10-2 run for St. Paul in the second quarter. Hooks scored four consecutive points and Udoh wasn’t letting anybody in the paint, as she had three blocks in the period.
The Wolverines held their lead throughout most of the third quarter, until Kolb took over the game for St. Paul.
St. Paul hit 12 of 19 free throws in the contest to help preserve its lead.
Sastrum led Oxford in scoring with 11 points.
The Falcons will host No. 14 Stonington in the second round on Thursday at 7 p.m.
St. Paul’s defense as the game progressed is a sign of what the team needs to do in order to keep its season alive.
“We’re going to have to work our rear ends off playing defense and limit the possessions the other team has,” Mone said. “We’re going to have to get on the boards, which we did a good job of today. This is how it’s going to have to be. It’s going to have to be low scoring.”
Dan Orencole can be reached at or