GOSHEN, Ind. – A strong defensive effort by the Goshen College women's basketball team was not enough to earn its first Crossroads League victory on Saturday. The Maple Leafs held the #2 scoring offense in the league (74.3 points per game) to 36% shooting, but the visiting Saint Francis Cougars still managed a 68-55 road victory.
"This is the type of game that can send us in a positive direction," second-year head coach Stephanie Miller explained. "We are quite a bit better than our record indicates and I think that playing tough games with highly ranked opponents like USF (#9) and Taylor (#13) has really allowed us to play relaxed and learn about where we are headed and who we want to be."
Senior Mary Hathaway posted her third-straight double-digit rebounding game and finished with her third double-double of the season with 16 points and 14 rebounds. Classmate Sam Hawk chipped in 10 points, six rebounds, and four assists, while freshman Tyra Carver had nine points off the bench.
Brooke Ridley led four Cougars in double figures with 17 points, while Megan Slusher had a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds, and Kayla Drake and Skylarr Shurm had 16 and 15 points, respectively.
"Mary has really stepped it up for us in the past few games both as a leader and rebounder," Miller said. "She is continuing to show growth now game after game. We also are so impressed with the growth of Paige Davis (seven points, six rebounds) this game, and this season overall. She has played so solid for us and has really shown what hard work and attention to detail can do for you. Her intelligent play and defense has been a great lift to our line-up."
Saint Francis (#9 in the latest NAIA DII polls) scored the first basket of the game and never again trailed. Despite an early 17-6 hole (11:48), the Maple Leafs never went away. They closed the first half on a 7-0 run, which included a Hathaway layup (WATCH) and a Liz Tecca 3-pointer (WATCH), to cut the gap to just seven (33-26) at the halftime intermission.
After the Cougars extended their lead back to double-digits (38-26) early in the second stanza, the Maple Leafs made their biggest run of the afternoon. Goshen held Saint Francis off the scoreboard for six minutes and 25 seconds forcing them into 1-of-8 shooting during the stretch.
The Maple Leaf offense, meanwhile, caught fire during a 14-2 run. Capped with 3-pointers from Hathaway (WATCH) and Davis (WATCH), the streak knotted the score up at 40-40 with just 12:18 to play.
"We are growing as a team so we know it will include some bumps in the road, but I thought tonight we played a much more cerebral game and showed quite a difference in our ability to play with control and poise against a highly ranked opponent," Miller added. Saint Francis is a very strong team and we pushed them up against the ropes quite a few times. I liked the fight, the attitude, the effort, and the maturity today. Now it's time to take the next step and get to winning ball games."
After Davis' long ball, Goshen went scoreless for the next three minutes and Saint Francis quickly went back up five. The visitors would then extend their advantage back to double digits with five minutes to play, using their depth and experience to put the contest away.
The Maple Leafs (0-10, 0-3 CL) are set to host Benedictine University (Ill.) in non-conference action on Thursday.