NEW ALBANY, Ind. - It was an early Christmas present for Coach Culler as her Forester women’s basketball team improved to 9-3 with a 70-55 win over IU Southeast (5-4) Monday night.
The Grenadiers, who like the Foresters received votes in the most recent NAIA poll, entered the contest with three different national team rankings which included 11th in blocks per game (4.25), 23rd in scoring offense per game (78.9) and 28th in 3-point field goals made per game (8.75) but the Foresters made sure to outplay their hosts in each category.
HU held IUSE 23 points below their average, swatted six shots to their three and outshot the Grenadiers 5-3 behind the arc.
HU’s second half defense proved to be the real difference in the game as they limited their hosts to just 23 points on 27.3 shooting in the final twenty minutes to run away with the contest. Jaclene Bonnema was a difference maker in the lane, swatting four shots and altering plenty more to stymie a high octane Grenadier offense that relies heavily on penetration to the rim.
It was a solid outing on the other end of the court as well thanks in large part to a pair of sharp-shooting guards. Pazia Speed carried the team in the first half, scoring 15 of her team-high 20 points in the opening twenty minutes. Hubble then took over where she left off, tossing in 13 of her 19 points in the final stanza to finish off the Grenadiers.
Amelia Recker rounded out HU’s double digit scoring with 11 points while Courtney Baker ripped down a game-best ten boards. Speed also registered six assists and three steals in the winning effort.
For the game, Huntington shot 44.4 percent (28-for-63) from the field which included converting 14 IUSE turnovers into 18 points.
The Foresters opened up play with a 12-2 lead and it looked like they were well on their way to keeping the Grenadiers at arm’s length but things didn’t go according to plan in the final four minutes of the period. Up 31-21 at the 3:41 mark, Huntington managed only three points the rest of the half as they watched their lead slip to two, 34-32, by break.
With momentum clearly favoring IUSE, they trimmed the lead to one in the opening minute of second half play but a driving layup by Courtney Baker gave her team new life as HU went on an 18-5 tear over a seven-minute span to reestablish a comfortable lead of 53-37 with just over 12 minutes remaining.
The Grenadiers, behind 21 points from Heather Wheat, closed to within nine several minutes later but would get no closer as HU cruised to the win.
The Foresters are off until December 27 when they travel to Purdue Calumet for a 6:00 p.m. CST tip-off.