No. 24 Foresters take down No. 7 Wildcats 51-49

Culler logs 500th career win
FOR RELEASE
2014-02-05

HUNTINGTON, Ind. – Huntington University head coach Lori Culler picked up her 500th win tonight and it couldn’t have come at a more opportune time for her and her No. 24 Foresters.

The win, a 51-49 decision over the No. 7 Wildcats of Indiana Wesleyan University (19-6, 9-4), not only broke a ten-game win streak IWU had over HU but more importantly catapulted Huntington into sole possession of second place in the conference standings. With five regular season games remaining, Huntington improves to 18-6 overall, 10-3 in league play.

Coach Culler is currently No. 3 on the career win list among active women’s basketball coaches in NAIA Division II. Over the course of her 28 years at Huntington, she has accumulated 500 wins against 320 losses for a winning percentage of 61.0 percent.

Points were at a premium Wednesday night as both teams pride themselves on defense and the battle did not disappoint. The Wildcats currently lead the nation in points allowed (53.0) but on this given night, the Foresters gave IWU a little taste of their own medicine.

“Tonight this team put together a defensive gem,” said Coach Culler. “Their preparation the past two days was so focused and their execution throughout the game was nearly flawless. 

“Anytime you hold a team under 50 points in a game, you give yourself a chance to win and it’s even more special when you’re able to stymie a team that is so well coached and has had so much success of their own. I couldn’t be more proud of our effort tonight.”

Huntington held Indiana Wesleyan to their lowest output of the season, 49 points, on 46.5 percent shooting (20-for-43) while giving up only six offensive boards and forcing 12 miscues.  

On the other end of the court, freshman Miranda Palmer played anything like a rookie to bolster HU’s offense. She poured in a game-high 22 points which included three triples and a perfect night at the line (5-for-5). The Findlay native has come into her own as of late, averaging just under 16 points per outing over the last seven games.

Kelsey Hubble tossed in ten points as Huntington’s only other double digit scorer. Amelia Recker topped all rebounders with nine, which included corralling two her team’s nine offensive boards.

Both teams struggled through a low-scoring first half that featured only 18 combined field goals to make for a halftime deadlock of 21-21. The night didn’t start off as such for the hosts as a long two and 3-pointer by Hubble within the opening minutes of play got her team off to a fast start of 9-2 by the 17:11 mark.

The defensive battle ensued as a disciplined Wildcat squad methodically went to work to eventually take the stanza’s largest lead of 17-13 by the 5:51 mark before HU closed out the period on a 9-4 run to knot things up at 21s by the halftime buzzer.

IWU scored the first six points of the final period to enjoy a 27-21 lead by the 15:19 mark but the Foresters didn’t panic. Courtney Baker finally broke the ice for HU with a jumper in the lane 30 seconds later to pull Coach Culler’s crew within four.

Still trailing by two, 34-32, by the midway point of the period, Palmer and Hubble teamed up spearhead an 11-2 run to turn their team’s two-point deficit into a seven-point advantage of 43-36.

After Palmer sparked the run with a pair of free throws and Baker scored in the paint, two Palmer buckets, both of which Hubble assisted, sandwiched Hubble’s 15-footer to give Huntington a lead that would stick.

The Wildcats closed within two on several occasions in the final 90 seconds but each time the upset-minded Foresters answered by way of a Pazia Speed jumper and Palmer reverse layup to stave off IWU for the win.

“This win is a great representation of what this team has been about all year, everyone performing their roles to the best of their abilities, sticking together through some adversity when we weren’t shooting well and being relentless until the final buzzer,” said Culler.

Val Sohasky and Taylor Goshert paced Wesleyan with 12 and ten points respectively.  

The Foresters turn their attention to Goshen for Saturday’s matchup as they look to avenge a loss to the Maple Leafs earlier this season.

The Huntington University Foresters compete in 16 intercollegiate sports for men and women. In the past decade, Huntington has produced 39 NAIA All-America honors and 213 All-America Scholar Athlete honors. Huntington University is a comprehensive Christian college of the liberal arts offering graduate and undergraduate programs in more than 70 academic concentrations. U.S.News & World Report ranks Huntington among the best colleges in the Midwest.
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Heather Barkley
Director of Communications
260.359.4129
Joanne Green
Sports Information Director
260.359.4284