by Frank Aceto
Associate Sports Editor
Hudson -- One field goal, four turnovers and three points.
Those numbers defined the fourth quarter of the Dec. 30 Hudson-Westlake girls basketball game at Ray "Buck" Hyser Gymnasium.
The Demons were perfectly happy with those totals. As for the Lady Explorers, not so much.
Hudson dropped its second consecutive game after losing a 58-54 decision to Westlake.
The Lady Explorers also suffered a commanding 90-58 setback to Berea Dec. 27 on the road to fall to 5-5 on the season.
Against the Demons (10-1), Hudson surrendered a double-digit lead and struggled mightily in the final eight minutes.
Westlake scored the last 10 points of the game. Senior guard Corinne Furci gave Westlake the lead (54-53) for good when she knocked down a three-pointer with less than 30 seconds left.
While the loss stung, Lady Explorers head coach Dennis Lawler believed his players provided plenty of positives in the heartbreaking defeat.
"We played hard," Lawler said. "It was a big improvement from our previous game.
"We had two good days of practice and our goal is to not take a step back. We just have to eliminate our mistakes."
Furci drained the go-ahead basket after her teammates calmly and patiently passed the ball around for more than 30 seconds. Hudson's defenders found themselves constantly chasing the Demons' playmakers until Furci's shot from the right side found nothing but net.
After that, the Lady Explorers turned the ball over and sophomore forward Monica Fury iced it when she converted a layup with less than 10 seconds left.
"We were trying to match up against their shooters," Lawler said. "I probably should have called a time-out to get us a good shot."
Hudson missed nine of 10 shots in the final quarter and did not score a point in the final 4:58.
The Lady Explorers looked like a well-oiled machine in the first eight-plus minutes.
When senior forward Krissy Mummey converted a layup on the first possession of the second quarter, Hudson had a 23-12 lead.
But the Lady Explorers committed several costly turnovers in the second period, which allowed Westlake to sneak back into the game.
After Westlake junior guard Allison Collins knocked down 2 of 3 free throws with 5 seconds left in the half, Hudson's advantage was just three (33-30).
"We're struggling to take care of the ball," Lawler said. "I think we counted 13 unofficial turnovers in the second quarter. We have to make better decisions."
Furci tied the game at 33 with a three-pointer from the corner and gave the Demons the lead (39-37) with another three a little more than three minutes later.
Hudson ended the quarter with a 14-7 run and built its advantage to six (54-48) when sophomore guard Ally Prosser converted 1 of 2 free throws.
Sadly, the Lady Explorers did not score another point the rest of the way.
Furci led the Demons with four three-pointers on her way to a team-high 18 points.
Fury added 17 points and Collins finished with nine points for Westlake.
The Demons made seven threes and converted 11 of 16 fouls shots.
Senior guard Jackie Ulmer led Hudson with a game-high 19 points and Mummey and sophomore forward Nikki Beckham contributed 14 and 12 points, respectively. Mummey also had nine blocked shots.
Hudson lost a 43-29 decision in the junior varsity contest.
The loss to Berea ended a four-game winning streak. The Titans improved to 10-0 with the win.
Becca Ziska led Berea with 16 points. Ulmer paced the Lady Explorers with a game-high 19 points and Mummey added 16 points.
Hudson was scheduled to visit Northeast Ohio Conference Valley Division rival Mentor Jan. 2 before returning home to play Valley Division foe Stow-Munroe Falls Jan. 4.
Both varsity contests are set to take place at 7:30 p.m.