BOURBONNAIS, Ill. - It was history in the making Saturday afternoon at McHie Arena as the Forester women’s basketball team (5-3) set a new program record for points scored in their 121-102 win over Olivet Nazarene University (3-5) at the Holiday Inn Express Classic.
The Foresters didn’t back down from the Tigers’ unique style of play and their poise paid off. ONU, currently receiving votes in the NAIA national rankings, plays a Grinnell-based brand of basketball that incorporates a continual full-court press, a fast-paced offense, an emphasis on offensive rebounds, a barrage of three-point shots and substitutions of five players at a time every 45 to 60 seconds.
It was off to the races for both teams as the first half featured 13 lead changes and eight ties. Neither team gained more than a six point advantage but it was the Tigers who closed out the half with a 5-2 run to take a 54-51 advantage into intermission.
Olivet Nazarene picked up where they left off to start the final twenty minutes as they cashed in on two of their 14 3-pointers to sprint out to 66-55 lead by the 18:11 mark. It didn’t rattle Coach Culler’s squad as they formed a united front with five different Foresters scoring over a four-minute span to turn their 11-point deficit into a one-point advantage of 71-70.
It proved to be a lead that would stick as Courtney Baker and Pazia Speed scored eight of their team’s next ten points from the free throw line to take a double digit lead of 83-73 by the midway point of the period.
The lead dipped to single digits three minutes later but the composed visitors made sure that didn’t happen again. Huntington missed only four shots the rest of the way and scored 12 points from the charity stripe to balloon their lead to twenty by game’s end.
The game featured 181 shots with HU getting the better end of the deal, connecting on 53.8 percent (43-for-80) to ONU’s 35.6 percent (36-for-101). The Foresters also owned the upper hand at the free throw line where they went 33-for-38 while the Tigers converted only 15 of their 19 freebies.
HU enjoyed a slight 55-52 advantage on the boards and committed 18 turnovers, one less than ONU.
Huntington starters accounted for 100 of the team’s 121 points. Despite playing only 22 minutes, Speed led the way with 27 points. Baker tossed in a career-high 23 points, grabbed seven rebounds and dished out four assists and for her efforts was named to the All-Classic Team.
Amelia Recker scored 15 of her 23 points in the second half to match Baker’s point total. She also enjoyed game-high honors in rebounding (9) and steals (4). Huntington’s other two starters, Kelsey Hubble and Jaclene Bonnema, posted new career-highs of 19 and eight points respectively. Hubble added a game-tying six assists while Miranda Palmer tallied five.
Amelia Echemann came off the bench to record a career-best 12 points. Allyson Trout also established a new career high of five points in the Foresters’ scoring frenzy while Lacy Deitrick registered her first bucket and steal of the season.
ONU landed three players in double digits. Miranda Geever finished with 16 points while Liz Bart and Malory Adam added 11 points apiece.
Huntington opens up the conference portion of its season on Tuesday when they travel to Marian University for a 7:00 p.m. tip-off.