WASHINGTON — The Washington girls basketball team made all the pressure points count down the stretch against Canton on Friday night.

The host Panthers used some full-court pressure defense to produce two late turnovers, and scored the final six points of the night to hold off the Little Giants, 58-53.

Washington (19-4, 6-2), which beat Canton 60-48 two weeks ago, took over sole possession of second place in the Mid-Illini Conference.

"One of our goals is to be at the top of the conference," Panthers coach Kim Barth said. "This was a win we wanted to get, and we got it."

The Little Giants (12-9, 5-3) had a 53-52 lead after a layup by Tori Oaks with 1:11 left in the game.

After a Canton time out with 48.7 seconds left, Georgia Duncan (14 points) hit a baseline jumper to give Washington the lead for good.

That’s when the Panthers went to their pressure defense.

"We’re playing three games a week right now, and we’ve got some kids with tired legs," Barth said. "But I said we’ve got to suck it up and put the pressure on them. I think that kind of made a change in the fourth quarter."

Duncan and Sierra Sonnemaker (13 points, nine rebounds) then went a combined 4-for-4 from the stripe following two Canton late turnovers to put the game away.

"I think the girls got a little excited, and we quit running what we needed to run," Little Giants coach Jessica Jones said. "I took the time out and we drew something up. Then they threw the press on, and it kind of threw things out of whack. It didn't help that we dug a hole in the first half."

Washington jumped out to an early 15-4 lead late in the first quarter, and went into the break with a 28-20 advantage.

"We were getting lots of rebounds, which is the key for us," Barth said. "And we were just making baskets."

The Panthers went 11-for-21 from the floor in the first half, and finished the game with a 35-29 edge on the boards.

But in the second half, the Little Giants started hitting their shots and pulled to within 36-35 when Sophie Oaks hit a trey at the end the third quarter.

"In the third quarter, there was a stretch where we couldn’t make baskets," Barth said. "We’ve been trying to play a full 32 minutes the whole season. But we always have that one quarter we’ve got to get figured out."

In the fourth, Blair Jacobus hit a trey and Anna Plumer (20 points) added three more, including one from the left wing that tied the game at 47 with 4:04 left.

Canton took a 49-47 lead on a jumper by Bailey Culver at the 3:12 mark, but the Panthers’ pressure defense held the Little Giants to just four more points the rest of the way.

"We missed a lot of layups, but I like the level we’re playing at," Jones said. "We’ve just got to execute a little bit better."

Johnny Campos can be reached at 686-3214 or at jcampos@pjstar.com. Follow him on Twitter @JohnnyCampos59.