HUNTINGTON — Fifteen weeks. One hundred and ten days. Twenty-nine games.
And still the symmetry is perfect for the Saint Francis women’s basketball team.
Still there is an unbroken chorus line of W’s, as the No. 1 Cougars (29-0, 17-0 Crossroads League) fought off a Huntington team Thursday night that gave them just as many fits as it did last month in Fort Wayne, when the Cougars escaped with an overtime win.
This time the Cougars won in regulation, 62-53, but it wasn’t decided until the Cougars finished the game on an 8-0 run.
“They really give us a run every time,” said Saint Francis senior guard Skylarr Shurn, who scored 18 of her game-high 25 points in the second half, and eight of Saint Francis’ last 10. “We knew we had to bring our best game.”
They did. And on the streak goes.
“You can look back and say, ‘Oh, man, it’s hard to be 29-0,’ but it’s not as overwhelming if you … just take it one game at a time,” said Saint Francis coach Gary Andrews, whose team shot 64 percent in the second half, blocked six shots and made seven steals. “But if you’d asked me at the beginning of the year if we were going to be 29-0, I’d say we had a chance, but it’s hard to do. We’ve just been able to find a way to win every game.”
Lockdown defense and defensive rebounding carried Saint Francis to a 31-20 lead with 3:26 to play in the first half, but prosperity turned a blind eye after that.
The Cougars didn’t score another first-half point after Jenelle Wilson’s steal and layup gave them the 11-point lead, and Huntington (21-7, 13-4) rode into halftime on a 10-0 run that turned the 11-point deficit into just one at 31-30.
“Part of that was we didn’t guard them very well and we missed some wide-open shots,” Andrews said. “We got great shots and couldn’t put them in, and that let them back in the game.”
The Foresters kept it going early in the second half, going harder to their own glass – in contrast to the first half, they had 10 offensive rebounds in the second – and using a 7-0 run to take their first lead since the opening minutes with 15:26 left.
Two free throws a minute later by Pazia Speed, who led the Foresters with 16 points, bumped the Huntington lead to 39-34. There was one tie and four lead changes before Shurn’s bucket with 7:33 to play gave the Cougars the lead for good.
Brooke Ridley (11 points, seven rebounds), Kalah Baer (10 points) and Wilson (10 points, eight rebounds, four assists and two steals) joined Shurn in double figures for the Cougars.
“Coach always says we’re a second-half team,” Shurn said.
“We understand teams are going to make runs; that’s all part of basketball. But then at the end we were able to get stops and able to make buckets and we were able to win the game.”