IWU storms out of gate, past HU in CL women's tourney

Huntington University guard Kelsey Hubble attempts to split a pair of Indiana Wesleyan defenders during Crossroads League Tournament semifinal action on Friday night, Feb. 28, at Platt Arena. Photo by Steve Clark.

Indiana Wesleyan stormed out of the gates and never looked back, hanging the Huntington University women's basketball team with a 71-60 loss in the semifinals of the Crossroads League tournament at Platt Arena on Friday, Feb. 28.

The third-seeded Wildcats, 26-6, advance to the tournament championship game against top-seeded Saint Francis on Monday, March 3, while the second-seeded Foresters, 23-8, will now wait to see if they receive an at-large bid to the NAIA National Championships, slated for March 12-18 in Sioux City, IA.

The two squads split their season series, with Indiana Wesleyan taking the first game, 66-50, before Huntington got payback in the second, 51-49. Unfortunately for the Foresters, the third meeting of the year resembled the former game, with the Wildcats ballooning a 12-7 lead a little over five minutes into the game into a 22-9 advantage by the 10:53 mark. Erika Isham and Jessica Brown tossed in four points apiece for Indiana Wesleyan during the 10-2 run as the visitors clicked on 15 of 27 shots in the first half for 55.6 percent on the way to a 42-28 halftime lead.

Huntington chipped away at the deficit in the second half, getting it down to seven, 53-46, at 13:15, following a bucket by senior Pazia Speed and two free throws by junior Courtney Baker. That's as close as the Foresters would get, however, as the Wildcats promptly pushed the lead back up to double digits and kept it there for the majority of the contest's remainder.

Freshman Miranda Palmer scored a game-high 18 points off the bench for Huntington, draining four triples along the way for the team's only points from beyond the arc. Baker produced 14 points with seven rebounds, which tied for the game-high, while Speed and sophomore Amelia Recker both added 10 points.

For the game, the Foresters went 17 for 48 for 35.4 percent and 22 for 26 at the line for 84.6 percent.

Goshert and Isham, with 14 points apiece, headed a balanced offensive attack for Indiana Wesleyan that saw nine players score. The Wildcats dominated the paint, scoring 40 points to Huntington's 18, and finished shooting 49.1 percent on a 26 of 53 effort while converting 14 of 17 freebies for 82.4 percent.

In addition to Baker's effort on the boards, Speed and junior Amelia Echemann each collected six rebounds to give the Foresters a 32-30 edge on the glass.

Baker and Speed each had three assists for HU.