GOSHEN, Ind. – For 20 minutes, the Goshen College women's basketball team gave the top ranked team in the NAIA DII national poll all they could handle Saturday afternoon. In the second half, though, the high powered attack of the University of Saint Francis was too much to overcome as the Cougars ran away with a 104-84 victory.
After the teams traded baskets twice to open the contest, the visiting Cougars went on a 5-0 run to go up 9-4. Goshen quickly responded with a Sophia Sears basket in transition and a pair of Liz Tecca free throws, but Saint Francis had another early run in them.
The Cougars kept the Leafs off the board for a five-minute span and scored 11 in a row to increase their lead to double figures (20-8). A heavy underdog, Goshen looked to be in trouble. The defense and sophomore Jo'Mani Thomas got the hosts rolling, however. They forced a pair of turnovers and Thomas turned them into back-to-back buckets as part of a 7-0 run, cutting the deficit to five (22-17).
Still down six with 9:37 left in the half, four different Goshen played entered the scoring column during a 7-1 stretch. Junior Megan Strock capped the run with an inside basket tying the score at 26-26. Saint Francis again tried to pull away, leading by as many as seven with 3:40 left in the first half.
A Tecca 3-pointer and transition layup, though, quickly trimmed the gap back to two. Then, after the Cougars jumped back up by six, Sears scored another inside basket and Tecca picked a Cougar pocket taking it coast-to-coast for a buzzer beating layup to send her team into the locker rooms down just a pair (45-43).
Just 14 seconds into the second half, Goshen struck again, this time with Tyra Carver driving the lane to tie the game at 45-45. Saint Francis' Jennelle Wilson and Skylarr Shurn took over, though. The duo combined for 13 points during a 15-1 spurt that put their Cougars on top 60-46.
Shurn stayed red hot throughout the second half, striking for 22 of her game-high 37 points after the intermission. Kalah Baer also had a strong game, posting 17 points and 11 rebounds, while Wilson finished with 18 points and seven assists.
Goshen had five players end with double digit points, including Sears who had a career high 13 points off the bench. Thomas finished with 15, Carver 13 and both Tecca and Lynnia Noel had 12. Goshen forced 21 turnovers, but had 22 themselves and allowed the visitors to shoot a sparkling 66% from the field.
The Maple Leafs (3-13, 0-4 Crossroads League) return to action when they travel to Marian University on Wednesday.