HUNTINTON, Ind. - The Huntington women’s basketball team overcame a nine-point halftime deficit to claim an impressive 70-65 win over 25th-ranked Taylor University Saturday afternoon at Platt Arena.
With this win, HU tallies its third consecutive Crossroads win to improve to 5-3 in league play, 13-6 overall. For the Trojans (13-7, 2-6), it was their fifth loss in as many games.
It was a tale of two halves as the Foresters went from being the aggressees to the aggressors. After struggling through the first 20 minutes trying to breakdown Taylor’s 2-3 zone, HU picked apart their defense in the second stanza to explode for 45 points on 55.6 percent (15-for-27) shooting while mixing things up on the defensive end to keep the Trojans guessing.
Sarah Miller-Jennings poured in 24 points, 14 in the final period, to lead the charge. She had plenty of help from Pazia Speed who tossed in 17 and Amelia Recker who added 16. The trio accounted for 39 of HU’s second half points.
Not much went right in the first half for the Foresters as they shot a dismal 9-for-30 from the field and only found their way to the free throw line four times. While their counterparts scored only one more bucket than HU, they showcased their free throw shooting ability by connecting on 13 of their 17 freebies.
Despite the seemingly lopsided play, HU managed to keep things close through the first 12 minutes of the contest. With the score tied at 20-20, Taylor finished the half on a 14-5 run which included cashing in on eight of their free throws to take a 34-25 lead into intermission.
The final twenty minutes was a different story as a determined Culler’s squad opened up play with a 9-2 run that featured two free throws and a trey by Miller-Jennings to close the gap to two at 36-34 less than four minutes gone by in the period.
Taylor scored on their next two possessions to grow the lead back to five each time but Miller-Jennings’ fourth long bomb of the night with just over 13 minutes remaining proved to be the turning point.
It sparked an 11-2 run capped off with a Recker bucket in the paint to give HU a 49-45 lead by the midway point of the half. While the Trojans would tie it up on two different occasions, the Foresters never relinquished the lead.
With the score tied at 59-59 with just over three minutes remaining, Speed took over. After scoring on a fast break, the junior guard intercepted a cross court pass and went the length of the floor for a layup. She was fouled on the play and made good on the ensuing free throw to give her team a comfortable 64-59 lead at the 1:52 mark.
It was a march to the free line after that as the top free throw shooting team in NAIA Division II lived up to their billing by going 6-for-6 in the final 90 seconds to seal the win.
As a team, the Foresters are currently shooting 78.5 percent from the charity stripe. They were even more accurate at the line tonight as they finished 17-for-20 for 85.0 percent.
Recker was active on the boards, ripping down four from each end of the court to finish with a team-high eight rebounds. Lauren Meese turned in a solid performance. HU’s floor general dished out a game-high four assists to go along with four steals, also a game best, seven points and five rebounds while only committing one turnover in nearly 37 minutes of play.
Erin Guarneri recorded a double double for the Trojans with 16 points and 11 boards. She was joined in double digits by Kelsey Bryant with 13 and Shayna Wood with 12.
The Foresters are back at Platt Arena on Wednesday to host No. 15 Bethel College at 7:00 p.m.