INDIANAPOLIS - The No. 23-ranked Marian University women's basketball team used relentless defensive pressure in the second half to snap a three-game losing streak in a 63-42 win over Mount Vernon Nazarene University at the Physical Education Center on Saturday afternoon.
The Knights improved to 12-5 overall and 4-4 in the Mid-Central College Conference, while MVNU fell to 9-9 overall and 1-7 in the MCC.
Junior Whitley Emerson
led a trio of Knights in double figures with a game-high 12 points, while junior Natasha Marshall
tallied 11 points and freshman Faith Reece
added 10 points in the win. Marshall and Reece each had a game-high seven rebounds, while junior Rachel Turk
had four assists and Reece had four steals.
MVNU opened with the first two buckets of the game and took an early five-point lead, 7-2, with 2:48 gone in the first half. The Cougars were able to keep the lead at five over the next seven minutes before the Knights tied it at 22-22 on a jumper by junior Natalie Robinson
with 7:46 remaining in the half. MVNU regained the lead, but the Knights took the lead back, 27-24, with 4:33 remaining.
Neither team made another field goal for the rest of the half as MVNU hit a trio of free throws to tie the score at 27-27 heading into the locker room.
Robinson led the Knights with nine points in the half, while Reece and Turk each had six points. The teams were even in rebounding (18-18), but the most glaring stat was MU's 17-0 advantage in points off the bench. The MU defense tightened down on MVNU as they did not hit a field goal for the final 6:02 of the half.
The second half began the same way it ended for the Cougars. The Knights stormed out with an 11-2 run over the first 2:48 as Marshall hit three three-pointers to stake MU a 38-29 lead. An MVNU bucket came with 17:26 remaining as the Cougars went 8:36 without a field goal.
After a pair of MVNU free throws, the Knights went on a 7-0 run to make give MU a 16-popint lead, 47-31, with 11:55 remaining. MVNU hit a bucket with 11:47 to go, but would not hit another attempt from the field until the 4:45 mark to push their total time without a basket from the field to over 15 minutes. The Knights pushed the lead to 21, 59-38, on a layup by senior Emily Smithson
with 4:02 remaining and were able to close out the 63-42 win.
MU took advantage of 21 MVNU turnovers to the tune of 14 points and the Knights got a strong contribution from their bench with a 25-9 advantage in points off the bench. They out-rebounded the Cougars by a 39-34 margin, but the key is that the Knights held the Cougars to just 14 percent (4-for-28) from the field in the second half and just 26 percent (14-for-55) for the game.
The Knights will head to No. 16-ranked Grace College (13-7; 5-3 MCC) on Wednesday night. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m. from the Orthopaedic Capital Center in Winona Lake, Ind. The game can be heard LIVE
beginning at 6:50 p.m.