ST. PETERS • Lutheran St. Charles senior guard Ashley Ernstmeyer knows her cliches.
While just about everyone who has touched a basketball court could tell you “defense wins championships,” the Cougars have made that philosophy a way of life.
The Cougars' 59-29 win Wednesday over visiting Notre Dame marked the 17th time in 21 games they have held an opponent to less than 40 points.
It also was the eighth win in succession for Lutheran St. Charles (19-2, No. 3 in STLhighschoolsports.com small-schools rankings).
“It's the most important thing to us,” Ernstmeyer said. “We have a really strong 3-2 and that's our go-to. Coach always stresses it a practice — always working on it, working to get better. She always emphasizes the hustle and I think we do a good job as we turn out defense to offense.”
For as good as the defense was against Notre Dame (7-10), it could have been better, Cougars coach Erin Luttschwager said.
“Our defensive philosophy is pure effort and I thought in the first quarter, we came out a little slow,” Luttschwager said. “We were walking and giving up too many easy points, easy shots. The next three quarters, we shut that down and, really, that was from our effort.”
After easing out to a 25-15 halftime lead, Lutheran St. Charles took off.
Acting Notre Dame coach Darren Gasperoni, who was filling in for ill head coach Patty Perkins, lauded both teams.
“They shot, like, 80 percent from the field,” Gasperoni said. “They were making twos, threes, with hands in the face and all kinds of (defensive) pressure. I liked that the kids played hard and gave 100 percent.”
Lutheran St. Charles junior guard Jada Lindesmith scored a team-high 16 points and Ernstmeyer had 12.
Hannah Scharenberg, a senior, led Notre Dame with 11 points while sophomore Sam Foppe added 10.
Luttschwager said the win was just another building block toward the team's ultimate goal.
“You know defense really does play anywhere,” she said. “We've tried to schedule all types of different teams and different environments to get us ready for what's to come. No matter who we play or where, though, if we play defense like we're capable, I really think we can do some very good things.”