Led by guards Courtney Baker and Miranda Palmer, the Huntington Univeristy women's basketball team built a 41-12 halftime lead and cruised to a 78-41 win over visiting Bethel in the opening round of the Crossroads League Tournament.
Baker, a junior, scored 12 of her 14 first-half points in the game's first 11 minutes as HU raced out to a 21-9 lead and never looked back. The 5-5 floor general also had six rebounds and three assists in the opening frame.
Palmer, a freshman, picked up the baton at the end of the first half and scored 10 points in just over three minutes as the Foresters were in the process of finishing out the frame on a 14-0 tear which upped the advantage from 27-12 to the 41-12 outcome when the buzzer sounded.
Baker finished with 18 points, eight rebounds, five assists and two steals and Palmer added 17 points and six rebounds as the Foresters improved to 23-7 and move on to face third-seeded Indiana Wesleyan on Friday, Feb. 28, at 7.
The second-seeded Foresters held a 10-0 lead when Bethel, 12-19, scored its first basket of the game. For the half, Bethel hit only 4 of 25 from the field for just 16 percent, and finished the contest at 15 of 56 for 26.8 percent.
With four Foresters hitting double figures, the HU offense hummed along nicely, connecting on 25 of 48 field goal tries for 52.1 percent and 23 of 24 free throws for 95.8 percent. Amelia Recker added 16 points to the HU tally, and Pazia Speed chipped in with 10 more.
Bethel was led by Ashley Lutz with 11 points.
The Forester' high-powered offense was aided by their unselfish play as they generated 18 assists for their 25 hoops, with Speed matching Baker for game honors with five.
The Forester also dominated on the backboards, to the tune of 39-28. Ameila Echemann matched Baker for game honors with eight.
Baker started the scoring off with a pair of free throws in the first minute, but neither team scored again until Baker hit a short shot from a Jaclene Bonnema feed at the 17:16 mark. Speed hit a second chance bucket moments later before Baker added a pair of free throws and another hoop for a 10-0 lead.
The margin was at 27-12 when Palmer went off on her rampage. Baker found the frosh open for a three-pointer at the 4:16 mark, then she found Recker for a bucket in the paint. Palmer then threw in a two-pointer followed by a pair of free throws before hitting a second trey at the 1:02 mark. Baker closed out the 14-0 run with her last bucket of the half.