WINONA LAKE, Ind. - It was a historic night for senior Miranda Palmer as she became the HU women’s basketball program’s all-time leading scorer when she buried a three late in the first quarter of the Foresters’ game with #RV Grace College (13-12, 8-5).
Palmer entered the game needing just four points to break Amy Bechtel’s scoring record of 2,019 points and after a layup five minutes into the game, the 5-6 guard drained her 244th career triple with just a handful of seconds left in the quarter to become Huntington’s most prolific scorer.
However, the outcome put a damper on the night as Huntington suffered a heartbreaking 61-59 loss to the Lancers. It was one of those nights that not much went right for Coach Culler and crew and not for a lack of effort or desire.
HU shot a dismal 34.4 percent from the field, well below their season average of 46.3 percent which ranks them 5th among their NAIA peers across the country. They managed just 22 field goals on 64 attempts which included going 5-for-22 from long range.
At the other end of the floor, Huntington’s most glaring issue was keeping their hosts off the boards, especially in the first half. The Lancers missed just 12 shots through the first 20 minutes and tracked down eight of those misses for ten second chance points and a lopsided 23-6 rebounding advantage.
Grace would tally seven more offensive rebounds in the second period on their way to outrebounding HU 46-29.
Despite these struggles, the Foresters still had a chance at an epic finish. Down by three after the Lancers came up empty at the line with less than five seconds remaining, the Foresters were fouled just across half court on a desperation heave and awarded three freebies for the tie with 0.3 seconds remaining. Characteristic of the whole night, the first foul shot rolled off the rim to squelch the chance for any sort of Forester heroics.
After the first six-plus minutes of the fourth quarter proved forgettable as only four points were scored between the two teams, the final three-and-a-half minutes more than made up for it. Miranda White finally broke the scoring drought when she scored in the paint at the 3:27 mark for a 52-48 tilt that favored the Lancers. Lauren Godfrey extended the lead to seven for GC with a long ball in the corner 60 seconds later.
Hailey Krewald took over after that to score eight of the game’s next nine points which included knocking down her only triple of the night with 1:14 remaining to deadlock things for the fourth time at 56-56. But Grace was quick to answer on their very next possession. This time by way of Kelsie Peterson who matched Krewald’s three-pointer to reestablish a Grace lead of three.
Brooke Saylor’s rebound bucket with ten seconds remaining dwindled the lead back to one at 59-58 but Godfrey calmly sank two free throws to reassert the three-point difference and set the stage for the nail-biting finish.
HU enjoyed just two leads on the night. The first came on the opening possession while the second came later in the quarter when Sarah Fryman scored in transition for an 11-10 advantage with 3:49 on the clock. Despite never leading again, the Foresters stayed with striking distance as eight points was the largest gap after that and happened just twice in the third quarter but never stuck for more than 60 seconds.
Palmer topped all scorers with 19 points. She also recorded a team-best five rebounds and game-best five assists to go along with two steals. Saylor finished with ten points as HU’s only other double digit scorer.
Godfrey paced the Lancers with 14 points off the bench. Peterson added 11 points and Haley Richardson and Vironnica Drake posted ten apiece.
HU (12-12, 6-7) will look to bounce back on Saturday when they host #17 Indiana Wesleyan at 3:30 p.m.
The Huntington University Foresters compete in 17 intercollegiate sports for men and women. In the past decade, Huntington has produced 38 NAIA All-America honors and 254 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.