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Last updated: Sat. Mar. 01, 2014 - 01:48 am EDT

CROSSROADS LEAGUE TOURNAMENT

Guards put on show as Cougars advance

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They’d played twice before this season, so there went that excuse for the Marian Knights. It wasn’t as if they hadn’t seen Skylarr Shurn before, or Jenelle Wilson, either.

No matter. Saint Francis’ dynamic backcourt gave the Knights an eyeful anyway.

Wilson scored 15 of her 24 points in the first half, Shurn singed Marian for a game-high 30, and the NAIA No. 1 Cougars (32-0) kept the “L” part of their won-loss column clean yet again Friday, running the Knights (16-16) out of Hutzell Athletic Center, 106-77, in their Crossroads League women’s tournament semifinal.

“We played great offense,” said Saint Francis coach Gary Andrews, whose team plays Indiana Wesleyan, a 71-60 winner over Huntington in the other semifinal, for the conference title at Hutzell on Monday. “We got great shots, knocked them down. Can’t play much better on offense.

“They can be a good defensive team. But we just picked them apart and got wide-open shot after wide-open shot.”

The Cougars shot 60 percent (31 of 51), including 65 percent in the second half, when they missed just eight shots. They outrebounded Marian 39-26, outscored the Knights 30-22 in the paint and had 11 steals.

It was a thorough hammering that was triggered by Shurn and Wilson, who in addition to their 54 total points combined for 12 rebounds, six assists and four steals.

“We were finding each other,” Shurn said. “We had a good connection going there – she was getting out on the break, I was getting rid of the ball, I was getting out and getting her the ball.

“It’s just all about looking for the open person and getting them the ball.”

Andrews was not inclined to disagree, though he said it wasn’t anything he hadn’t seen before.

“They were awesome, but they’ve been that way all year,” he said. “I think they’re the best backcourt in the country.

“Numbers-wise, it was probably their highest-scoring game together of the year.”

Emily Montgomery (15 points on 4-of-6 shooting) and Brooke Ridley (14 points and seven rebounds) also hit double figures for the Cougars, who led by as many as 33 points, 104-71, on two Quila Jackson free throws with 55 seconds to play.

As for Marian, the Knights led only once, at 8-6 on a Kaylee Walters bucket and free throw a touch more than four minutes in. When Shurn answered 20 seconds later, the visitors never saw anything but the Cougars’ taillights thereafter.

It was still a three-point game, at 26-23, when Stephanie Lord buried a 3 for Marian with 8:18 left in the first half.

But then the Cougars sprinted away, scoring the next six points and 15 of the next 22 eventually running the lead to 13 on Montgomery’s 3 with 27 seconds left.

It was a 46-36 at the break, and the Knights were never closer than six again.

bensmith@jg.net


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