TEMECULA — Felicia Simon's fast-break offense at Temecula Valley High already stunned one Southwestern League power this season. Murrieta Valley wasn't going to fall prey to the Golden Bears, too.
Karen Wolf, Brenda Bilton and Katie Clark combined for 44 points, foul trouble slowed electric Temecula Valley guard Iman Lathan and the Nighthawks remained atop the league standings with a 76-60 victory on Thursday night at Temecula Valley High.
"We know they are a really good offensive team — really good," Murrieta Valley coach Scott Richards said. "We just tried to play a good zone against them. We know Iman likes to go to her right a lot and we tried to take that away from her. We did a good job on defense against her."
They had to.
The 5-foot-9 junior entered Thursday's contest averaging 22.3 points a contest, with last week's 20-point game against Chaparral (14-6, 5-1) helping the Golden Bears hand the Pumas their only league loss.
On Thursday, Lathan never really got going, largely because she picked up two fouls in the game's first three minutes and had four — including two charges — with two minutes left in the first half as the Nighthawks (17-5, 5-1) built a 40-19 lead at the break.
"I don't like to blame anything on the refs, but I just think they had it in for us from the beginning," said Simon, whose team was whistled for 20 fouls to the Nighthawks' 13. " ... (That foul trouble) hurt (Lathan) a lot. Mentally, it gets her out of her game and having everyone else step up, that's sometimes a struggle. So much goes through her."
Temecula Valley (11-12, 2-4) didn't hit any kind of stride offensively until the third quarter, when Kaitlin Matthewson sank three of her five 3-pointers. She finished with a game-high 18 points, Lathan scored eight of her 14 points in the fourth quarter and Paige Stroder tallied 10 in a game the Golden Bears' trailed from the get-go and by as much as 28 late in the fourth quarter.
Credit a strong all-around game from the Nighthawks, who needed a pick-me-up after Tuesday's 42-31 loss to Chaparral.
Wolf scored 17, Bilton added 14 and Clark turned in 13 points.
"It was definitely really important for us to get a good win, a solid win," Clark said. "Obviously, we did lose Tuesday to Chaparral. It's always good to get a solid game after a loss to get us on the right track going into the second half of league.
"That's what we did tonight."