HUNTINGTON, Ind. – The seven-game win streak for the HU women’s basketball team (21-7, 13-4) came to an end Wednesday night as the #20 Foresters dropped a 62-53 decision to #1 University of Saint Francis (29-0, 17-0) at Platt Arena.
The Foresters came to do battle, limiting one of the nation’s most potent offensives to 23 points less than their season average but came up two stops short down the stretch in their quest to knock-off top-ranked USF.
A pair freebies by Pazia Speed with 2:51 to go pulled HU within one, 54-53, but it proved to be the hosts’ final points as Skylarr Shurn scored on back-to-back possessions to give her team some breathing room at 58-53 and start the march to the free throw line. Forced to foul, the Foresters sent the Cougars to the line three times in the final minute where they went 4-for-6 to seal the win.
HU wasted little time jumping out to an early 4-0 lead on two quick jumpers by Amelia Recker but Saint Francis fired right back with eight straight points to surge in front 8-4 by the 15:58 mark. The Cougars maintained a two possession cushion over the next seven minutes but were primed for the blowout when Speed was whistled for her second foul and shortly after Courtney Baker joined her on the sideline in similar foul trouble.
A reeling Forester squad managed only two points over the next five minutes to fall behind 31-20 with just over three minutes remaining but HU was far from waving a white flag. Allyson Trout came off a back screen for an easy lay-in to ignite a 10-0 run that featured two long balls by Miranda Palmer as Coach Culler’s squad headed into the locker room down by only one at 31-30.
HU came out of break a little sluggish but Kelsey Hubble got her team back on track, sandwiching a Speed bucket with a 15-footer and 3-pointer to turn their four-point deficit into a three-point advantage of 37-34 by the 15:43 mark.
The Foresters would extend the lead to five 60 seconds later but Shurn made it obvious why she leads the league in scoring, cashing in on a traditional three-point play and converting an HU turnover into an easy layup to cap off a 6-0 run and reclaim the lead, 40-39, with just over 13 minutes remaining.
The lead would trade four times over the next five minutes before Shurn made her presence known once again. She backed her way down low for her 17th point of the night at the 7:36 mark to give her team a lead that would stick, foiling the plans of the upset-minded Foresters.
She would go on to score eight more points to finish with 25. Brooke Ridley added 11 while Kalah Baer and Jenelle Wilson each tossed in ten.
Speed paced HU with 16 points. Joining her in double digits was Recker with 14. She also corralled eight rebounds and swiped three steals. Courtney Baker also tallied three steals and handed out a game-high five assists.
After tearing up the nets for 54.2 percent in the first half, the Foresters managed only nine field goals on 27.3 percent shooting in the final twenty minutes. It proved to be their demise as the visitors knocked down 64.3 percent of their second half shots to finish 51.2 percent for the game.
Both teams committed 15 turnovers while HU enjoyed a slight 34-31 rebounding advantage.
Huntington wraps up regular season action on Saturday when they travel to Taylor for a 1:00 p.m. matchup.