HUNTINGTON, Ind. – It’s often said the third time’s a charm and the Foresters learned firsthand just how sweet that idiom is. After being swept by Marian University in regular season action, the HU women’s basketball team outlasted the 6th-seeded Knights 69-65 in first round action of the MCC tournament Tuesday night.
With this win, Huntington (20-9) advances to the semifinals and will travel to #2 Bethel College Friday night for a 7:00 p.m. matchup.
It was obvious from opening tip the 3rd-seeded Foresters were ready to take control of their own destiny by doing the little things well. From committing a season-low six turnovers to scoring 17 points off 21 Knight miscues to knocking down free throws down the stretch, the Foresters came up with big play after big play to get the job done.
After trailing the Knights through the first six minutes of play, Kelsey Green muscled one in down low to give HU their first lead of the night at 9-8 with just over 14 minutes left in the half. Little did anyone suspect it would be a lead that would stick as she and Allison Greene teamed up to score seven points apiece in the opening period to grow the lead to as many as eight before heading into the locker room with a 28-24 advantage.
Marian pulled within two at 30-28 by the 17:48 mark but a Pazia Speed trey sparked a 12-5 run capped off with back-to-back buckets from Green to extend HU’s lead to 42-33 inside of 14 minutes remaining.
Four minutes later, the Knights returned the favor by reeling off seven consecutive points to dwindle the lead to two at 45-43 by the 8:03 mark but up stepped freshman Courtney Baker. Baker looked more like a seasoned veteran as she scored 15 of her team’s final 24 points to will the Foresters to a win.
Amidst Baker’s highlight reel that featured several floaters in the lane, a traditional three-point play and going 5-for-6 from the charity in the final minute, her teammates also came up with several key plays to stave off the scrappy Knights. Greene’s banked in three with the shot clock winding down and Lauren Meese’s back door lob to Liesl Davenport came at critical moments in the waning minutes to help secure the Foresters’ win.
Baker finished with a career best 19 points and three steals to pace the Foresters while Green and Greene each chipped in 15 points. Meese, HU’s floor general, played the entire 40 minutes and tallied eight points, dished out three assists, swiped three steals while committing only one turnover.
Emily Smithson dropped in 14 points for the Knights. Adrienne Schmidt came off the bench to score 13 points while Natalie Robinson and Natasha Marshall added 11 and ten points respectively.