Lani Tu’uga ignited East Union late in the second half Tuesday night and helped catapult her team to a 51-23 non-league win over visiting Beyer at Dalben Center in the season opener for both teams.
With East Union (0-1) leading 11-10, Tu’uga notched a pair of full-court layups following steals — the second one was converted to a three-point play — and started the Lancers on a 22-3 run into the third quarter.
“That was an opportune time for her and the hands she has,” East Union coach Jim Agostini said of Tu’uga. “We took a timeout with about 2:30 left in the half and challenged the team to finish the half off strong and that is what led to that run.”
The Lancers ran their lead to 33-13 late in the third quarter.
“It was a little bit of a slow start,” Agostini said. “We have a lot of work to do. We are a little injured and a little short-handed, but I thought the girls were very solid defensively.”
Tu’uga missed a triple-double by one steal with a game-high 19 points along with 11 rebounds, nine steals, four blocks and four assists.
“I knew we had to step it up and switch gears in that second quarter,” Tu’uga said. “I just started pressuring up on my defense.
“We saw who their shooters were and we stepped our defense up on the 3-point line and took away their shots.”
East Union’s Lauren Pablo added 11 points.
“Our defense really picked up late in the second quarter,” Pablo said. “We just started pressuring the ball more and scored a lot off of fast breaks.”
The Lancers scored 15 points in transition with Tu’uga totaling nine of those 15 and Pablo four.
East Union’s Donnese Payne pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked three shots, and Kylie Kulina led the Patriots (0-1) with 10 points.
East Union 32, Beyer 27
The Patriots narrowed a large gap late in the game but could not catch the Lancers.
Mariela Navarro led East Union with 12 points and Jatziry Garcia-Aguilar added 11.
East Union 29, Beyer 19
Virginia Oliveira paced the Lancers with 12 points and Izabella Avalos chipped in 10.