Neumann-Goretti girls run past Cardinal O'Hara

Neumann-Goretti's Minika Glenn (left) and Cardinal O'Hara's Hannah Nihill battle for a loose ball.

When teams play the Neumann-Goretti girls' basketball squad, they are bound to be uncomfortable.

The Saints put a hand in your face before you've even thought about taking a shot, making no look you'll get over the course of 32 minutes a clean one.

Corralling a rebound is just as hard, as N-G crashes the boards, using its physicality and athleticism to get hands on the basketball first.

What about passing and running through sets? The Saints are there, in the lanes, ready to quickly steal it to ignite the offense.

Shooting. Rebounding. Passing. None of it comes easily when teams play Neumann-Goretti.

The Saints made host Cardinal O'Hara uncomfortable as soon as both squads got on the floor Wednesday night and never let up, defeating the Lions in a marquee Catholic League matchup, 51-37.

"It was a big game," senior guard Ashley Jones said. "Really big - especially because we were on their home court."

From the minute N-G (9-3, 4-0 league) stepped on the floor, it looked to be in control, getting off to a 5-0 start, but the Lions (7-3, 4-1) roared back, as explosive guard Hannah Nihill knotted the score at 15 to start the second quarter.

That's when the dynamic Jones - and then the Saints' tight defense - took over.

"Every time I came off the screen I just penetrated," said Jones, who finished with 22 points. "I didn't really have to take any shots because the lane was open for me."

Goretti didn't allow O'Hara to get many good looks beyond the arc, which frustrated the Lions and helped the Saints in transition.

"It was the most important part of the game," N-G forward Chyna Nixon said of her team's defense. "They could easily go up 20 because of how well they can shoot. When we don't give them that, it makes the leader grow bigger."

"No threes," coach Andrea Peterson yelled to her team, clapping enthusiastically.

Twenty-eight seconds remained in the third quarter and Peterson had a very clear message.

The Saints listened, and O'Hara was unable to get off a good shot.

The Lions weren't ever comfortable enough to do so.

Neumann-Goretti 15 14 7 15 - 51

Cardinal O'Hara 13 4 5 15 - 37

NG: Ashley Jones 22, Chyna Nixon 8, Tatiana Jones 8, Minika Glen 7, Jabria Ingram 3, Kiara Rogers 3

CO: Hannah Nihill 23, Maura Hendrixson 7, Bridgette Hoy 5, Mary Sheehan 2

kharman@phillynews.com

@ka_harman