There's no mystery to Paul Laurence Dunbar's success.
The Lady Bulldogs, with one point guard tied behind their back, romped 58-36 Saturday at Lexington Catholic.
"Our points come from defense," said Lexus Edwards, who led the winners with 22 points, adding seven rebounds and three blocks. "That's where our offense comes from, so we like to pressure the ball a lot and get easy buckets."
Dunbar (4-2), No. 3 in the Herald-Leader pre-season coaches' poll, finished with a 10-20 advantage in turnovers. The Bulldogs also battered Catholic on the backboards, 36-26, including 17 offensive rebounds.
Edwards and Shakeema Jackson, who scored 16 points, made four three-pointers each.
Kierra Muhammad, all of 5-foot-4, had nine rebounds, nine assists and four points.
Imagine what the Bulldogs can do when Muhammad's 5-4 running mate Jordin Fender joins the lineup.
Rated by coaches in the pre-season as the 23rd-best player in the state, Fender has yet to play as she recovers from a torn ACL. Her debut is expected in about three weeks.
No. 21 Catholic (2-4) came in with a plan but was unable to execute.
The Lady Knights shot 5-for-18 (27.8 percent) in the first half. A 5-0 run in the final minute — a low-post bucket by Brooke Todd and a three-pointer by Edwards, turned a seven-point Dunbar lead into an imposing double-the-score 24-12 margin at intermission.
"And we (took) good shots. If we convert some shots there early and get some confidence about us, we might have been able to do some things different," Knights Coach Scott True said. "But we didn't, and they're contesting shots and applying a lot of pressure. You just can't turn it over and you can't give them second shots, and we did both those things."
Rachel Blake topped Catholic with 15 points. Octavia Wilson had eight rebounds, four assists and five points.
Catholic's only lead, 2-0, came on Caroline Lynch's fast-break layup.
Dunbar took a 4-2 lead on back-to-back baskets by Todd, who finished with eight points and six rebounds.
Blake scored on a back-door play to tie, but Dunbar went ahead for keeps on a Jackson three-pointer.
"Give Coach True some credit. He's always got those kids prepared, and Catholic always plays so hard," Dunbar Coach Sarah Bridenbaugh said. "We just continue to do what we do best — play defense and try to force them into turnovers. And we were bigger than them; that gives you a mismatch on defense sometimes, too. Subbing a lot of kids in and out and trying figure out those matchups early."
Edwards, a 5-8 senior, finished 6-for-13 from the field, 4-for-6 from long range, and made all six free-throw tries.
"I felt great," Edwards said. "I've been playing pretty bad, but it's good to be back and playing hard."
Words that must bring a smile to Bridenbaugh.
"I think we're doing a good job and working hard, and we have to continue to work hard in practice to get better every day," the coach said. "As a whole, we're a good crew. I've got a good group of girls, but they have to continue to challenge themselves as we move forward."
PAUL DUNBAR (4-2) — Muhammad 4, Jackson 16, Edwards 22, Todd 8, Parks 3, Jones 2, Rosen 1, Armstrong 2, Ighodaro 0. Totals 20-55 10-17 58.
LEXINGTON CATHOLIC (2-4) — Blake 15, Cawood 5, Browning 3, Wilson 5, Lynch 3, Miller 2, Osbourn 1, Pippen 2, Gadberry 0. Totals 12-35 8-12 36.
Paul Dunbar 12 12 19 15—58
Lexington Catholic 7 5 14 10—36
Three-point goals — Dunbar 8-17 (Jackson 4-8, Edward 4-6, Ighodaro 0-1, Jones 0-2), Catholic 4-8 (Blake 1-1, Cawood 1-1, Browning 1-3, Wilson 1-3).
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229 Twitter: @MarkMaloneyHL Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com