BEREA, Ky. - The Forester women’s basketball team split a pair of games at the Berea College Pepsi Classic to move to 5-1. On Friday against the host Mountaineers, HU ran away with 80-39 lopsided win before the Eagles (5-3) of Robert Morris University (Ill.) brought HU’s undefeated season to an end with a 61-54 win.
What Huntington lacked offensively to start Friday’s contest, they more than made up for with their defensive intensity. Despite scoring only nine points through the first 11 minutes of the game, the Foresters only found themselves down by two at 11-9.
HU’s full court pressure finally took its toll on Berea as the Mountaineers managed only seven more points the rest of the period while Huntington finally created some easy scoring opportunities from their press in the final minutes of the half.
Holding onto a slim 20-18 lead with just over three minutes remaining in the period, the Foresters exploded with a 14-2 run to close the half and take a 34-20 lead into the locker room.
Huntington forced 20 first half turnovers, 12 of which were steals, to limit the Mountaineers to only 16 field goal attempts for 20 points.
HU carried this momentum into the second period where they grew the lead to 45-24 with less than three minutes gone by. A deflated Berea squad never recovered as the Foresters more than doubled their score by game’s end.
It proved to be one of the Foresters’ most productive halves of the season as they outscored Berea 46-18 on 15-for-25 shooting (60.0 percent) while limiting BC to seven field goals on 29.2 percent shooting.
The Foresters dominated nearly every statistical category with the most glaring difference coming by way of a 48-21 rebounding advantage. HU pulled down 19 offensive rebounds to Berea’s 18 defensive rebounds.
HU also found their way to the free throw line 37 times, making good on 28 for 75.7 percent while the Mountaineers went 5-for-15 for 33.3 percent.
Three Foresters racked up double digits with Sarah Miller-Jennings leading the way. She finished with a season-best 18 points, 12 of which came by way of the charity stripe, and a game-high eight boards. Allison Greene added 17 while Kelsey Hubble came off the bench to score ten.
Anna Loveless tossed in ten points for Berea.
Things didn’t go quite as smoothly for HU on Saturday as they got a taste of their own medicine from the Eagles who rattled the Foresters with their aggressive, in-your-face full court defense.
Robert Morris entered the contest leading the NAIA Division I in steals with just over 18 per game and were only one shy of their average, tallying 17 steals and forcing seven other Forester miscues.
The also held HU to 36.2 percent (21-for-58) shooting for the game and sent Culler’s squad to the line only 16 times, six times less than their season average.
It was a slow start for both teams as Pazia Speed’s jumper in the paint with 16:33 on the clock marked the game’s first score. The Foresters went on to build the largest lead of the game at 13-2 with just over 12 minutes remaining but little did anyone suspect their best ball was already behind them.
The Eagles went on to outscore HU by seven the rest of the period to trim the lead to four at 27-23 by halftime. Things went from bad to worse in the second half as Huntington managed a single field goal through the first ten minutes to find themselves in a 38-30 hole.
HU found new life thanks to Sarah Miller-Jennings and Courtney Baker who accounted for 16 of HU’s next 18 points to give the Foresters what proved to be their last lead of the day at 48-46 with 6:29 remaining.
The scales tipped once again as the Eagles regained and maintained the lead over the next four and a half minutes but Miller-Jennings kept things interesting when she knocked down two freebies with just over two minutes remaining to knot things up for the fifth time at 54-54.
But it was all Eagles after that as they held HU scoreless the rest of the way to cruise to the seven-point victory.
Miller-Jennings came off the bench to lead all scorers with 14 points. Pazia Speed was the only other Forester to finish in double digits with 11. Taylor Foley pulled down a season-high 13 rebounds, six of which were offensive.
Renee Reed and Danisha Cole topped the Eagles with 13 and 11 points respectively.
The Foresters open up league play on Tuesday when they host the University of Saint Francis at 7:00 p.m.