WBB: #1 Lady Cougars add No. 9 to win column with 22-point conquest

LIMA, Ohio — For the second consecutive game, top-ranked University of Saint Francis had five players crack the double-figure scoring column in an 87-65 win at University of Northwestern Ohio on Saturday afternoon.

The No. 1-ranked Lady Cougars improved to 9-2 overall with the non-conference win over the Racers (4-4), who are members of the Wolverine-Hoosier Athletic Conference. USF has won 36 of its last 38 games as the No. 1 ranked NAIA Division II team.

Junior forward Akyah Taylor led the balanced USF attack with 27 points and she pulled down a team-leading 10 boards as well to post her seventh double-double this season. Teammate Brooke Ridley scored 18 points and just missed a double-double with nine rebounds. Bri Rinehart scored 12 points in a starting role, Mallory Hester added 11 points and Emily Montgomery scored 10 points in a reserve role.

After ties at two and four, Hester scored from the paint at 16:58 to give USF the lead for good at 6-4. UNOH got as close as 8-7 when USF went on a 9-0 run to open up a 17-7 advantage at the 14:16 mark. Rinehart, Taylor Wilson, a Hester 3-pointer and a Taylor 2-pointer gave USF its first double-digit lead. Porsha Buchanan cut it to 17-9, but the Lady Cougars responded with a 7-0 run for a 15-point lead, 24-9, at 12:05 when Rinehart buried a 3-pointer.

The Lady Cougars opened up a 44-24 lead with 3:25 to play, but UNOH whittled the deficit to 13, 46-33, just before halftime. USF shot .559 in the first half connecting on 19-of-34 shots. UNOH shot .324 (11 for 34). Taylor led USF with 19 points in the first half and six boards.

USF’s lead fluctuated between 13 to 17 points before the Lady Cougars built a 23-point cushion on a Kaleigh Hensley bucket at 10:42 for a 71-48 lead. The Racers got no closer than 18 the rest of they way to the finish. USF outscored UNOH 39-32 in the second half with 11 Lady Cougars seeing action.

“I was concerned (heading into this game) because they force an average of 26 turnovers a game,” USF Head Coach Gary Andrews said. “We moved the ball well and broke their press. We finished shots inside and shot well at the free-throw line in the second half. We played pretty good defense . . . clogged the lane and got out on their shooters. They average 84 points a game, so to hold them to 65 is a good day’s work.”

The Lady Cougars return to Crossroads League play at USF on Wednesday at 7 p.m. against Taylor University, then USF plays at No. 3 Indiana Wesleyan University on Sat., Dec. 6 at 1 p.m.

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