FORT WAYNE, Ind. - Points were hard to come by in Hutzell Athletic Center for the No. 24 HU women’s basketball team (13-8, 5-5) as they scored a season-low 42 points on their way to a 65-42 loss to the No. 9 Cougars of Saint Francis (20-2, 9-1) Saturday afternoon.
It was business as usual for the Cougars as they improved to 7-0 at home. It marked their third straight win against an NAIA top 25 team, their fifth consecutive victory.
Poor shooting did the Foresters in as things didn’t go as planned for HU in the second go-around of league play. Looking to avenge a 64-56 loss back on November 20, Huntington entered the contest shooting nearly 42 percent per outing as a team ranking them 27th in NAIA Division II for field goal percentage.
But Saturday was a completely different story as the Cougars’ defensive pressure limited HU to 24.1 percent (14-for-58) for the game which included shooting a dismal 18.5 percent in the first stanza. On the other end of the court, USF knocked down 44.9 percent (22-for-49) of their attempts to cruise past their neighbors to the southwest.
It was a slow start for both teams as Kayla Drake opened up play with a trey and teammate Brooke Ridley scored in the paint to give USF an early 5-0 lead after three minutes of play but it would be another four minutes until the Cougars would put any more points on the board.
Meanwhile, the Foresters were even less productive as Taylor Foley’s two free throws at the 15:03 mark would be her team’s only points through the first eight minutes. The next seven minutes didn’t get much better as Lauren Meese and Jaclene Bonnema were HU’s lone point getters as Culler’s squad faced their largest deficit of the half at 23-6 with just under five minutes remaining.
Allison Greene scored HU’s next five points to spark a 9-1 run to trim the lead to single-digits at 24-15 but it proved to be as close as Huntington would get as Saint Francis rattled off the final six points of the half to take a 30-15 advantage into intermission.
While the Cougars only outscored HU by eight in the second stanza, the visitors never got closer than 18 points the rest of the way as Drake scored 13 of her game-high 18 points in the final twenty minutes to keep Huntington at arm’s length.
Ridley was the only other Cougar to score in double digits. She finished with ten while Meghan Slusher tossed in eight to go along with a game-best ten rebounds.
Greene came off the bench to top HU with nine points. Pazia Speed added eight while Amelia Recker and Meese each grabbed six boards.
With this loss, Huntington drops a spot to fifth in the conference standing while the Cougars, having knocked off top-ranked Indiana Wesleyan earlier in the week, share the No. 1 spot with the Wildcats.
The Foresters return to Platt Arena on Wednesday to take on Marian University at 7:00 p.m. HU will look to complete the series sweep having beaten the Knights 63-53 earlier this season.