FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The No. 14-ranked Indiana Tech women’s basketball team fell to the defending 2017 NAIA Division II National Champions and No 1-ranked Marian, 59-50, in their home opener on Saturday afternoon at the Schaefer Center.
Kendall Knapke led the Warriors with 14 points and five rebounds, while Keanna Gary chipped in her second double-double of the year with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Haley Cook rounded things out for Tech with 10 points and six rebounds on the night.
In what began as a defensive battle in the opening quarter quickly turned into a Warrior advantage as they took a 4-4 score around the five minute mark and turned it into an 11-4 lead with under a minute left of play in the first quarter. After keeping their opponents scoreless for about four minutes of the back half of the first quarter, Tech found themselves up 11-5 after the first 10 minutes of play.
The Warriors were quick to start their offense in the second quarter with a jumper from DeAnn Kauffman and a three from Knapke securing a nine-point lead at 16-7. That nine point lead would eventually grow to a twelve-point advantage as Tech’s defense would continue to hold their opponents to single digits through the first six and a half minutes of the quarter, gradually gaining a 23-14 lead late. After 20 minute of play, the Orange and Black would head into the half with the 25-19 advantage behind a seven-point and six -rebound first half performance from Gary.
Tech would continue to hold and grow their halftime lead through the first couple minutes of the third quarter, but it would be the Knights that who would set the offensive pace early in the second half with Kellie Kirkhoff nailed a three to cut their deficit to just one. Kirkhoff would continue to push Marian with another three that would grant them the 30-27 lead with just over six minutes left in the third quarter. The Knights would hold the Warrior offense to just seven points in the final six minutes of play in quarter number three, granting them a 43-36 advantage heading into the final quarter in regulation.
A quick score from Kauffman would cut the Marian lead to just five early, but the Knights would again set the offensive pace, going on an 8-0 run with just under five minutes left in regulation. With just under two minutes, the Knights would find themselves ahead 57-43 with the Warriors only able to cut that 14-point deficit to nine off a late three from Knapke. Gary would hit a layup in the paint as time expired, but it would be too little too late, as Marian would secure the 59-50 victory.
Tech (1-1) will return to action on Tuesday as they host Grace College in a 7 p.m. match-up from the Schaefer Center.