#26 HU takes #1 Saint Francis to OT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. - It took an extra period for the #1 Cougars of Saint Francis to finally claim a 85-77 win over the #26 HU women’s basketball team (14-6, 6-3) in Wednesday’s Crossroads match-up at the Hutzell Athletic Center.

It marks only the second time this season that an opponent has taken the nation’s top team to overtime as USF remains unblemished at 21-0 overall, 9-0 in league play.

With every run the Cougars manufactured, the Foresters countered until the overtime where it was the Kalah Baer show. The 6-0 senior muscled her way down low to score 10 of her team’s 13 OT points which included a pair of old-fashioned three point plays to seal USF’s 24th consecutive win at home.

Spotting Saint Francis an 11-4 lead within the four minutes of play was HU’s first opportunity to showcase what they’re made of. A lot of grit and determination. Two quick scores by Amelia Recker and a 10-footer by Jaclene Bonnema pulled the Foresters back within two, 12-10, at the 14:08 mark but more importantly proved to everyone in Hutzell Athletic Center that the game was far from over.

The Cougars, ranked 4th in the country in scoring (87.9 ppg), made it clear their ability to put points on the board as they knocked down 17 of their 26 first half field goal attempts for 65.4 percent to grow the lead to as many as nine at 42-33 with just under two minutes to go. Coach Culler’s squad rose to the ocassion, scoring five straight points to trim the lead to four by halftime.

Recker was her team’s heart and soul in the first stanza. The 5-9 forward was flawless, pouring in 18 points by going 7-for-7 from the field and 4-for-4 from the line. She also ripped down three offensive rebounds, dished out two assists and swiped a steal in the opening period.

The Foresters pulled even with their hosts at 44-44 within the first two minutes of the second half but things went a little awry for HU after that. Over the next 11 minutes, the Cougars amped up their defensive pressure, generating seven steals and blocking three shots, to gradually pull away from Huntington to take a comfortable 68-54 lead with just over seven minutes remaining.

Things looks bleak for the underdogs but Pazia Speed was not about to let her team go down without a fight. Her bucket in transition at the 5:37 mark ignited an impressive 16-2 Forester run that shaved the lead to nil. She capped off the comeback by burying a triple with 42 ticks remaining to knot things up at 72-72.  

Speed was equally adept at the other end of the court where she tied up Jennelle Wilson on the ensuing possession to turn the ball back to HU with 37 seconds remaining. It had all the makings of an upset but after using the entire shot clock, the Foresters’ hope of an epic finish was denied as Recker’s shot was blocked and bobbled out of bounds to the Cougars with seven seconds remaining. USF’s 15-footer at the buzzer was off the mark to force an extra five minutes of play.

This time around, the Foresters didn’t have an answer for Baer and company as they coughed up the ball twice in the extra period and managed only five points to make for the eight-point loss.

In addition to scoring a game-high 25 points, Recker pulled down eight rebounds and finished with three assists. Speed tossed in 21 points while Courtney Baker added ten points and handed out a team-high five assists.

Wilson led USF with 23 points, Brooke Ridley added 19 and Skylarr Schurn and Baer recorded 16 apiece.

Saturday starts round two of Crossroads play as they Foresters square off against Marian at Platt Arena at 1:00 p.m.
The Huntington University Foresters compete in 16 intercollegiate sports for men and women. In the past decade, Huntington has produced 39 NAIA All-America honors and 213 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.


Heather Barkley
Director of Communications
Joanne Green
Sports Information Director