MT. VERNON -- The Marion High School girls basketball team couldn't get that one big momentum swing it needed Thursday night in a 37-28 loss to Mt. Vernon at the new Changnon Gymnasium.
Marion fell to 2-8 overall and 0-3 in the South Seven Conference.
Although the game was close for all but a stretch of the third quarter, the Lady Wildcats led just once when Daishen Wolaver splashed in a 3-pointer in the opening minutes to put Marion ahead at 3-2.
The Lady Rams took a 12-7 lead into the second quarter after Ashlyn Conner banked in a triple at the first period buzzer and led by seven after free throws from Brooklynn Kelley.
Marion went on a 7-0 run to tie it, starting with a basket from freshman Margaux Bruce. Wolaver split four free throws and then made two after being part of a double technical with Kelley, then a free throw from Grace Connor tied it at 14 with 13.7 seconds left in the half.
Mt. Vernon led at the break, however, after Annibelle Harrison split two tosses and the rebound led to Claire Heinzman also splitting two free throws for a 16-14 halftime margin.
The key stretch of the game came in the start of the third quarter when the Lady Rams went on a 10-0 run to build a 12-point lead. Conner and Harrison both drilled 3-pointers and Heinzman scored to make it 26-14 with 2:45 left in the third period.
Marion got buckets from Bruce and Jordan Turner to finish the frame and that started a 9-1 run for the Lady Wildcats. Jackie Drury canned a jumper off a nice pass from Turner and then Turner popped a triple to make it 27-23 with six minutes still to play.
But the Lady Rams didn't let Marion get any closer and 6-foot-1 senior Nici Rudd scored eight of her game-high 13 points in the remaining time, including a layup for the final margin with a minute left after the Lady Rams melted over 40 seconds off the clock.
Wolaver led Marion with seven points. Bruce had six and both Turner and Drury had five.
The Lady Wildcats play at Gallatin County on Monday, then host Murphysboro on Thursday and Du Quoin on Saturday.