Maryville's latest attempt at an elusive victory went awry in the fourth quarter Monday night.
With costly mistakes throughout the final period, the Lady Hounds allowed a game they led for almost 28 minutes to slip away from them in a 41-36 loss to Lathrop at MHS Gymnasium.
The Mules, who trailed by five at the start of the fourth, grabbed their first lead since it was 1-0 with 3:19 left and never gave it back.
Maryville scored just two points over the final 1:40, and the Mules (14-5) made five throws that kept the Hounds down by at least two possessions.
The loss was Maryville's seventh straight, fourth in a row at home and dropped their record to 5-14.
This was Maryville's fifth loss during their current skid by less than 10 points.
"It's obviously frustrating. The players are frustrated, but you got to look at what was positive tonight and what we can fix just moving forward," said Maryville head coach Grant Hageman. "We just have to sharpen things up in the fourth quarter. The mental mistakes are just really hurting us."
Lathrop outscored the Lady Hounds 16-6 in the fourth quarter and limited them to one field goal on four shot attempts.
The Mules scored the opening five points of the quarter and got the game tied at 30 on a three by Isabel Maddick that received a friendly roll. Maryville led once more at 32-30 before the Mules tied it again at 32 on a bank shot by 6-2 center Katie Cordray.
Blair Twaddle had a chance to put the Hounds back in front with 3:34 left, but missed the front end of a one-and-one.
Maddick made two free throws on Lathrop's next trip that gave them a 34-32 lead, their first since the opening minute of the game.
Hageman thought that had a psychological impact on his team.
"It was like the record just playing in our head again," said Hageman. "I thought the energy level dropped and I thought we kind of stopped talking and that's what we addressed after the game. The fourth quarter, that's when we should've been talking the most and being positive and we stopped talking."
After escaping a potential backcourt violation, Lathrop scored again on a bank shot from Cordray to lead by four.
A follow by Chelsey McMichael pulled the Hounds within two.
After a pressure-induced turnover by Lathrop on the next inbounds attempt, Twaddle missed a shot that would've tied it at 36.
Two free throws by Ashley Beers restored Lathrop's four-point lead with 1:18 left. She hit another with with 38.2 seconds left that made it 39-34.
Page 2 of 3 - This lead appeared secure until the Mules fouled Twaddle on a three with 15.2 seconds left.
She missed the first, but made the last two to make it a three-point game.
Against full-court pressure, Lathrop inbounded the ball to Maddick who was fouled with 13.5 seconds to go.
She hit the first and missed the second, but Cordray was there for the offensive board.
Beers made one more free throw with 3.7 seconds left to complete the scoring.
Lathrop's 16 point fourth quarter was their best of the game.
All but seven of the team's points were scored by Cordray (20 points) and Maddick (14 points).
Cordray scored most her points on lob passes over the top of Marvyille's smaller front line.
"It's hard to guard six-footers when you don't have one," said Hageman.
Maryville scored 13 points in a razor-sharp opening quarter, but produced just 23 more and 13 in the second half.
The Hounds lost their rhythm on offense when Lathrop switched to a 1-3-1 zone and started applying full-court pressure.
Maryville, which turned it over just once in the first quarter, did so on at least five occasions over the last three quarters.
"What really changed the game is when they went to their 1-3-1," said Hageman. "It bothered us. It slowed us down. It's different passing angles. I thought that really kind of shook us for a while and then we didn't get some shots to fall when we were doing a good job moving it. I think we lost our confidence and then we kind of stopped attacking."
Maryville's leading scorer and only double-figure scorer was McMichael with 11 points. It was her second straight double-figure game.
She also did an admirable job defending down low against Cordray who held a 10-inch height advantage.
The Hounds usual leading scorers, Twaddle (seven) and junior Chelsea Byland (four) combined for only 11 points.
Junior guard Cassie Holtman added six and scored the team's only two third quarter baskets.
Maryville held as much as an eight point lead in the first half and shot just under 50 percent from the field.
The Hounds went 6-12 in the first quarter and three of their misses were blocked.
A three-point play by Church that was set up by McMichael gave the Hounds an 11-5 lead and they finished the quarter up six.
"I thought that was the best we've executed our man-to-man stuff all year," said Hageman. "We were unselfish. We got the ball inside. We got high percentage shots. I thought we had them out of position because we got a lot of offensive rebounds."
Page 3 of 3 - McMichael put the Hounds up eight early in the second quarter with a putback. Lathrop cut it to four on three separate occasions before the Hounds extended back to a seven point lead.
The Mules scored the final two baskets of the quarter to reduce Maryville's halftime lead to 23-20.
Both teams labored on offense in the third, quarter, combining for just 12 points.
The Mules wasted multiple chances to tie or take the lead with six turnovers. Up one, Maryville scored the final four points of the fourth quarter on a driving layup by Holtman and two Byland free throws with 8.4 seconds left to lead 30-25.
That's when it all went wrong.
"We just got to make it count in the fourth quarter," said Hageman. "Like I told them, tomorrow we can come to practice and we can get after it or we can come tomorrow and kind of lay down. They haven't done that yet and I don't think they will."
Maryville's next game is Thursday night at Smithville.