In a hard-fought contest that saw 12 ties and seven lead changes, it was the Huntington University Foresters (7-4) that outlasted a tough Malone College (9-3) squad for the 64-60 victory.
Over the first nine minutes of play, the two teams battled back and forth and a Malone free throw from Nikki Parson knotted the game for the seventh time at 16 with 11:18 to go in the half. The Pioneers then took advantage of three Forester turnovers and scored eight unanswered points to take a 24-16 lead. A Jessah Brumbaugh layup finally stopped the run, but Malone kept the pressure on and they were still up seven with 3:56 on the clock. Then it was Huntington’s turn to step the defensive pressure. The Foresters held Malone scoreless the remainder of the half which enabled them to take a 30-29 lead to the locker room.
The Pioneers tied the score at 34 early in the second half and were up four at 40-36 with 12:57, but Huntington would not go away. The Foresters put together a 10-2 run over the next two and a half minutes only to have Malone reign them back in and pull even at 46 with 9:12 remaining. The seesaw affair continued down the stretch with the two teams still neck-in-neck at 57 apiece with just under two minutes to play.
Huntington took the lead on an Amy Wanemacher layup at the 1:41 mark and Amy Berry made it 61-57 on the Foresters next trip with two charity tosses. Malone’s Cara Shiplett scored inside to cut it to two and then had a chance to knot the score at 61, but only connected on the second to bring the Pioneers within one at 61-60 with 24 second left. Malone then fouled Brumbaugh who hit the first of two at the line. The Pioneers got off two desperation field goal attempts in the waning seconds before Lauren Davenport was fouled on the defensive rebound with one tick left. Davenport calmly sank both free throws for the final margin of victory.
Huntington had a balanced scoring attack with four players reaching double figures. Berry topped the list with 16 points followed by Brumbaugh and Wanemacher with 11 and Davenport with 10. Brumbaugh also dished out a game-high nine assists. Shiplett led all scorers in the game with 25 points and Parson added a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds.
The Pioneers won the battle of the boards 42-29, but the Foresters made up the difference by forcing Malone into 35 turnovers for the game.