The battle went back and forth, but it was the Foresters (8-4) who eventually won the war upsetting the NAIA Division II 13th-ranked Cardinals of William Jewell College 58-52 in the opening round of the St. Xavier University Christmas Tournament. The contest, which included 11 ties and 11 lead changes, was finally put away in the final minute by HU who hit 5 of 7 charity tosses down the stretch to seal the win.
After a long Christmas break, both teams struggled early at the offensive end, playing to a 12-12 tie midway through the first half. William Jewell was the first to gain some breathing room with a 9-2 run giving the Cardinals a 21-14 lead with 7:41 to go in the half. The Foresters fought back with eight unanswered points to go up 22-21 with 3:33 to go in the half and then finished the period with an 8-1 run to take a 32-25 lead at intermission.
A sluggish start to the second half for HU allowed the Cardinals to regain the momentum and a 35-33 lead three and a half minutes into the period. From there, the score seesawed back and forth with neither team able to build more than a four point advantage. Two Courtney Beerbower free throws at the 3:46 mark knotted the score for the eleventh time at 50. HU’s Kendra Stahl then gave the Foresters a 53-50 lead on a jumper and a free throw with 2:45 to play. The score remained the same until William Jewell began to foul with 48 seconds left. Beerbower and Jenna Donaldson each hit two free throws and Stahl added another to pull off the upset.
Beerbower and Stahl each finished with 13 points to lead HU and Beerbower added a team-high nine boards. Lauren Davenport chipped in 10 points for the Foresters. William Jewell’s Hilary Adams took top scoring honors in the game with 15 points. Erica Ferguson added a double-double with 14 points and 13 rebounds.
With the win, the Foresters will now face the host St. Xavier Cougars, who were ranked #8 in the most recent NAIA Division I polls. The game is scheduled for a 7:00 p.m. CST start.