PALM HARBOR — So much for home-court advantage.
After traveling south and taking care of St. Petersburg last month, Palm Harbor University couldn't repeat the feat in the comfort of its own gym Thursday night.
“I told the girls when they came in that we can forget that first meeting,” PHU coach Darian Dublin said after the 50-41 defeat. “It's going to be a different story tonight and we've got to be on our game.”
Dublin's premonitions proved true, but his team was unable to respond.
St. Pete (17-2, 4-1 Class 8A District 8) jumped out to an early lead it never relinquished and PHU's off-night from the field kept the Hurricanes from mounting any serious comebacks.
“We just had a bad shooting night,” Dublin said. “We couldn't hit shots, we couldn't get the easy buckets, we missed a lot of layups, but I give St. Pete a lot of credit.”
The Green Devils were led by birthday girl Jordan Berenbaum, who celebrated her 18th birthday with a game-high 17 points.
“She played 10 [PHU's Megan Ingram] well, she held her to minimal baskets and offensive rebounds, and that's what we talked to her about,” St. Pete coach Tamika Coley said of Berenbaum.
Ingram managed just a single free throw in the pace-setting first half and St. Pete took a 25-15 advantage into the break. The junior forward bounced back with 11 in the second half, but PHU never pulled closer than three points.
PHU (16-3, 4-1) cut St. Pete's lead to that three-point margin with Michaela Leonard's layup midway through the third quarter that capped an 8-1 run that made the score 26-23.
The 'Canes couldn't continue their clean play, though, as St. Pete pushed its lead back to 36-27 by the end of the third period.
PHU's Amber Jennings paced the team in scoring with a 14-point night that included three 3-pointers.
St. Pete guard Lazasha Baskins joined Berenbaum in double figures with 11 points.
The teams now find themselves tied atop the District 8A-8 standings and both have one remaining.
PHU, which plays a big non-league game tomorrow night at home against Clearwater, travels to Bradenton Manatee next Friday.
St. Pete goes on the road to Sarasota Riverview next Thursday.
SP - 10 – 15 – 11 – 14 --- 50
PHU - 8 – 7 – 12 – 14 --- 41
St. Petersburg (17-2, 4-1)
Jordan Berenbaum – 17 points
Lazasha Baskins – 11 points
Palm Harbor University (16-3, 4-1)
Amber Jennings – 14 points
Chardonay Aldrich – 7 points