Copperas Cove's Erica Powell (54) drives in the lane against San Angelo Central at Copperas Cove High in Copperas Cove on Tuesday, Jan 23, 2018.

Jayda Carter scored 14 points and the Copperas Cove Lady Dawgs inched closer to a playoff spot Tuesday with a 54-39 win over San Angelo Central on Tuesday night in the Dawg House.

The third-place Lady Dawgs (23-7, 7-3 8-6A) hold a three-game lead over a quartet of teams, including Central (17-14, 4-6), tied for fourth place with four games remaining.

“I knew coming in that San Angelo was definitely going to be physical and they were going to get after it,” head coach Eldridge McAdams said, “and they definitely did that.”

It was a slow start for Cove despite junior guard Carter’s early deep 3-pointer to get the Lady Dawgs on the board but trailed 10-7 at the end of the first quarter.

Cove got back on track defensively, holding Central to just six points in the second quarter. Sophomore forward Kaysha McCloud led the Lady Dawgs with 10 rebounds.

“It’s hard because I don’t want to hurt nobody, especially me because I always get hurt,” she said of her but it’s kind of hard because I don’t play rough in practices either so it’s hard to get it in the game and actually be tough.

“We’re working on that physicalness,” McAdams said of McCloud’s game in the paint. “She kind of don’t want to hurt nobody so we’re working on that and I thought tonight that she was real physical, so definitely good,”

McCloud was sent to the free-throw line early in the period to bring the Lady Dawgs within one point of the Lady Cats.

“She goes up for the rebound, puts it back, she gets the foul,” senior forward Erica Powell said of McCloud’s performance in the paint.

Carter hit a shot from the outside that pushed Cove ahead, and the offense continued to take off from there.

The Lady Cats fouled Erica Powell twice, allowing her to push Cove further ahead before junior guard Madison Griffon found sophomore Leah Powell waiting in the corner to add three more.

The Lady Dawgs led 23-16 lead at the half.

“First half, I thought we were kind of being the ones who were getting hit,” McAdams said. “Then the second half, we came out and made a little bit of ​an ​adjustment.

“(I) thought we played with more energy the second half.”

Griffon found McCloud waiting in the paint for an easy hook shot before Central sent Erica Powell to the line once more.

Both teams started man-to-man full-court pressure early in the second half, which led to Griffon picking off a Lady Cats pass.

She drove down the lane before tossing a no-look pass to McCloud waiting under the rim to give the Lady Dawgs a five-point lead.

Late in the second half, Erica Powell stole a Central pass and found Griffon waiting at midcourt. Griffon dribbled down the lane before sending the ball to the left corner, where Carter was waiting to hit her fourth and final 3 of the night.

With less than a minute left, Cove got possession and ran out the clock.

“It was definitely a good win,” McAdams said. “It was a really good win.

“We needed it.”

McCloud and Erica Powell each had 10 points for Cove.

The Lady Dawgs are looking for redemption today on the road against district leader Ellison.

“We need to be focused from today until Friday,” Erica Powell said. “We just need to keep focused. We know what they did to us last time so we need to come back and do it to them.

“It’s only a matter of time until we get to play them again and see what happens.”

fcardenas@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7562

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