Brittany Fallon has always been accommodating to what Marlboro needs.
As the point guard, she unselfishly moves the ball, exploring options with the intent to find the best available shot. But, recently, coach Brian Nash pointed out to the senior that she just may be ignoring the one shooter that holds the key to revitalizing the Mustangs’ offense.
“She has been asked to absolutely provide more offense,” Nash said. “She’s always been more of our floor general. I had a talk with her and told her we needed her to score more for us to be successful.”
Perhaps, it was that chat which inspired Fallon to call her own number with under a minute showing in the third quarter and Marlboro trailing Freehold Township by nine. Twice, in the span of 31 seconds, Fallon buried a jumper from beyond the arc to ignite Marlboro, which went on a game-breaking run with its new scoring threat taking the lead to orchestrate a 36-31 victory on Monday in Freehold Township.
Not a particularly high-scoring offense to begin with (42.7 ppg.), Marlboro (12-4) endured a five-game stretch to end January in which it went 2-3 while averaging 37 points per game. At that point, Fallon was notified to seek her shot at a more frequent rate.
“The past three years, I was more of the assist player,” Fallon said. “I knew had to be a lot more offensive. I wanted to be able to help that way.”
Her scoring services became desperately required late in the third quarter. An 11-0 run by Freehold Township that Morgan Duffy punctuated with a 3-pointer powered the Patriots to a 25-16 lead with just over a minute left in the period. The run coincided with 0-for-8 shooting spell by Marlboro before Fallon shifted fortunes in the Mustangs’ favor with a long-range barrage.
She converted a kick out by sophomore center Haley Unger into a 3-pointer with 38 seconds showing and nailed another off a feed from senior guard Rachel Neuman 30 seconds later to draw Marlboro within 25-22 heading into the final eight minutes.
“Haley is our first option in the post,” Fallon said of the usual chain of halfcourt exploration for Marlboro. “They all sink in on Haley and that is my cue to step in for the jump shot. After I hit the second one, I was like ‘Wow, we’re only down three' and now, we’re back in the game.”
The two bombs sparked a 16-2 burst that Fallon fueled with 11 points, including another deep jumper with 3:33 to go that ended the tear with Marlboro owning a 32-27 edge and 3:33 showing in regulation.
By spreading out the offense with a five-out set, Marlboro balanced the floor while staying true to its methodical, possession style. And, by doing so, it discovered a flow that saw it go 5 for 5 from the field within the surge, including 4 for 4 from behind the arc.
“Those two threes at the end of the third saved the quarter and saved the game for us,” Nash said. “We were getting some good looks but couldn’t knock anything down against the 1-3-1. By Brittany stepping up and hitting those shots, she changed the whole momentum of the game.”
“They have the patience to wait for you to make a mistake,” Freehold Township coach John Sciarappa said of Marlboro. “They drilled the threes and I thought that was the key.”
Fallon (9.4 ppg.) has proven receptive to Nash’s scoring request; she’s averaged 16.3 points over the past three games and nailed 11 of her 24 3-pointers during that stretch.
Another area of concern Marlboro addressed was on the glass. Annually dominated by Freehold Township in that regard, it bucked that trend by fashioning a 28-18 rebounding edge led by Unger, who grabbed 10 and Ally Weinberg, who cleared seven.
“Over the last couple years, Township has crushed us on second-chance opportunities,” Nash said. “Limiting them to one look on each trip down and taking away how many sets they can get was a game changer for us.”
Stephanie Martinez topped Freehold Township with seven points while Duffy and Weinstein chipped in with six apiece.
Gregg Lerner covers girls basketball for MSG Varsity. Follow him on Twitter: @gregglerner