FORT WAYNE, Ind. - It
took an extra period for the #1 Cougars of Saint Francis to finally claim a
85-77 win over the #26 HU women’s basketball team (14-6, 6-3) in Wednesday’s Crossroads
match-up at the Hutzell Athletic Center.
It marks only the second time this season that an opponent has taken the nation’s
top team to overtime as USF remains unblemished at 21-0 overall, 9-0 in league
With every run the Cougars manufactured, the Foresters countered until the
overtime where it was the Kalah Baer show. The 6-0 senior muscled her way down
low to score 10 of her team’s 13 OT points which included a pair of
old-fashioned three point plays to seal USF’s 24th consecutive win
Spotting Saint Francis an 11-4 lead within the four minutes of play was HU’s first
opportunity to showcase what they’re made of. A lot of grit and determination.
Two quick scores by Amelia Recker and a 10-footer by Jaclene Bonnema pulled the
Foresters back within two, 12-10, at the 14:08 mark but more importantly proved
to everyone in Hutzell Athletic Center that the game was far from over.
The Cougars, ranked 4th in the country in scoring (87.9 ppg), made
it clear their ability to put points on the board as they knocked down 17 of
their 26 first half field goal attempts for 65.4 percent to grow the lead to as
many as nine at 42-33 with just under two minutes to go. Coach Culler’s squad
rose to the ocassion, scoring five straight points to trim the lead to four by
Recker was her team’s heart and soul in the first stanza. The 5-9 forward was flawless,
pouring in 18 points by going 7-for-7 from the field and 4-for-4 from the line.
She also ripped down three offensive rebounds, dished out two assists and
swiped a steal in the opening period.
The Foresters pulled even with their hosts at 44-44 within the first two minutes
of the second half but things went a little awry for HU after that. Over the
next 11 minutes, the Cougars amped up their defensive pressure, generating
seven steals and blocking three shots, to gradually pull away from Huntington
to take a comfortable 68-54 lead with just over seven minutes remaining.
Things looks bleak for the underdogs but Pazia Speed was not about to let her
team go down without a fight. Her bucket in transition at the 5:37 mark ignited
an impressive 16-2 Forester run that shaved the lead to nil. She capped off the
comeback by burying a triple with 42 ticks remaining to knot things up at
Speed was equally adept at the other end of the court where she tied up Jennelle
Wilson on the ensuing possession to turn the ball back to HU with 37 seconds
remaining. It had all the makings of an upset but after using the entire shot
clock, the Foresters’ hope of an epic finish was denied as Recker’s shot was
blocked and bobbled out of bounds to the Cougars with seven seconds remaining.
USF’s 15-footer at the buzzer was off the mark to force an extra five minutes
This time around, the Foresters didn’t have an answer for Baer and company as
they coughed up the ball twice in the extra period and managed only five points
to make for the eight-point loss.
In addition to scoring a game-high 25 points, Recker pulled down eight rebounds
and finished with three assists. Speed tossed in 21 points while Courtney Baker
added ten points and handed out a team-high five assists.
Wilson led USF with 23 points, Brooke Ridley added 19 and Skylarr Schurn and
Baer recorded 16 apiece.
Saturday starts round two of Crossroads play as they Foresters square off
against Marian at Platt Arena at 1:00 p.m.