Girls: Mater Dei 71, Cor. Santiago 32

ANAHEIM -- The Mater Dei girls’ basketball team has a way of making good teams look bad.

The second-seeded Monarchs took on unbeaten Corona Santiago on Tuesday afternoon in a Southern Section Division 1AA semifinal and wasted no time sprinting away from the third-seeded Sharks en route to a 71-32 victory at the Anaheim Convention Center Arena.

Mater Dei used a 25-0 run that stretched from the first quarter and into the second to take a 20-point lead and the Monarchs never looked back.

“Coming into an arena-type setting, to shoot as well as we did in the first quarter, I think that gave us a huge advantage,” said Mater Dei coach Kevin Kiernan.

Santiago (30-1) scored the game’s first five points before the Monarchs finally got on the board on a three-point basket by Kaija Powell with 5:14 left in the first quarter.

Mater Dei (29-3) kept on scoring, ending the first quarter on a 22-0 run and then scoring the first three points of the second. The Monarchs shot 6-for-10 from beyond the three-point stripe in the opening quarter.

“Usually, it’s harder to shoot the threes in this type of setting, but we’ve been shooting pretty well lately,” Kiernan said. “I think that got us off to a great start.”

Nirra Fields, whose highly publicized transfer from Virginia to Mater Dei before the season, one that landed her under the same roof as Lakers coach Mike Brown, finished with 27 points, 11 rebounds and five steals. The UCLA-bound senior guard was one of four Monarchs in double figures.

“My mindset going into the game was, if it goes bad, just keep going, run the floor and do what you do,” she said. “I did make a couple mistakes in the first half and I just kept working and I went off.”

Alexas Williamson, who signed with Washington State, finished with 14 points for the Monarchs and USC-bound guard Jordan Adams had 12 points and eight rebounds.

Defensively, the Monarchs held Santiago to 21.6 percent shooting from the field (11-51) and forced 22 turnovers. Monique Billings led the Sharks with nine points.

Santiago coach John Perez said Mater Dei took advantage of its big-game experience.

“They’ve got a lot of experience,” Perez said of Mater Dei. “They’ve been in arenas many, many times and we haven’t.”