WINONA LAKE, Ind. – The No. 21 Huntington women’s basketball team (21-6, 13-3) played spoiler to senior day at Grace College (14-14, 10-6) Saturday afternoon by handing the Lancers a 57-39 loss to wrap up the season sweep over their neighbors to the northwest.
With two regular season games remaining, the Foresters hold at second place in the league standings, one game in front of Indiana Wesleyan and three games behind top-seeded Saint Francis.
Defense was the name of the game for HU as Coach Culler’s squad held Grace to just 26 percent from the field, their worst shooting performance of the season, which included going 5-for-27 in the final twenty minutes. It marks the second straight contest in which Huntington has held its opponent to under 40 points.
The key was limiting Grace’s explosive duo of Juaneice Jackson and Allison Kauffman, who together average nearly 35 points per outing, to just ten points apiece. HU’s crippling defense wreaked havoc on the twosome as they finished 7-for-22 from the floor while committing three miscues each.
The day started off evenly as fans witnessed four ties in the first six minutes until Kelsey Hubble drilled the first of two triples to give her team what proved to be a permanent lead at the 13:45 mark.
It sparked a 10-0 run that Miranda Palmer capped off with five quick points within 90 seconds of entering the ball game to push the lead to eight at 19-11 with 11:14 on the clock. The Foresters continued to pull away as Hubble’s second trey with just over two minutes remaining in the frame gave HU its largest lead of the contest at 33-19 before a pair of freebies by Gabby Bryant sent the Foresters into break with a 33-21 lead.
Huntington missed its first seven shots of the final period to give the hosts an opportunity to cut into the lead but fortunately, seven points, 34-27, was as close as they would get before Pazia Speed rallied her troops. After hitting a free toss to account for HU’s 34th point, the lone senior scored the game’s next 12 points, half of which came behind the arc, to balloon the lead to 46-27 by the 11:15 mark.
The Foresters cruised to the win after that as a deflated Grace squad managed only two field goals the rest of the way.
Speed finished with a game-high 22 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals to pace HU. Hubble added 14 points as the Foresters’ only other double digit scorer while Courtney Baker topped all rebounders with ten to go along with eight points and a team-high three steals. Palmer also tallied eight points and dished out three assists to share game-high assists honors with Amelia Recker and Jackson.
HU finished 22-for-56 from the field for 39.3 percent, committed 12 turnovers and scored 21 points off 20 Lancer miscues. The Foresters’ only hiccup came at the line where they shot an uncharacteristic 42.9 percent (6-for-14), a far cry from their No. 1 free throw shooting ranking in NAIA Division II of 79.1 percent.
Coach Culler and crew will have their hands full on Wednesday when they host No. 1 Saint Francis at 7:00 p.m.