FORT WAYNE, Ind. - A powerful offensive attack of NAIA DII #14 University of Saint Francis was too much for a young Goshen College women's basketball squad to handle as they lost 86-61 to the hosts Saturday afternoon.
The Cougars drained 11 of their first 13 attempts from the field, while the Maple Leafs struggled to get going and the hosts built an early 31-4 lead.
"We have had trouble getting out of the gate successfully the last few games because we haven't been able to convert early baskets while opponents have shot unbelievably well in the first five to eight minutes of the game," first-year head coach Stephanie Miller said. "The combination has been so difficult for our players to overcome."
Overall, Saint Francis hit a sparkling 63% in the first half as they went into the locker rooms 55-26. The Maple Leafs managed to outscore them 35-31 in the final period, but the gap was far too large to overcome.
"After getting down early, we could have laid down in the second half," Miller continued. "I am so proud of the second half effort after such a tough beginning really shows the character and work ethic of these young ladies."
Less than 10 minutes into the second half, Goshen trimmed a 29-point deficit down to 17 (63-46). That would be as close as they would get, however.
Senior Kari Heusinkveld (Goshen, Ind.) led three Maple Leafs in double figures, scoring 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting. Junior Jenna Rusmisel (Kendallville, Ind.) hit 2-of-3 3-pointers and 6-of-8 from the line for 12 points and freshman Megan Strock (Butler, Ind.) added 10 points for Goshen.
"Give credit to Saint Francis, they have great athletes who made some excellent individual plays, but I am confident that we out played them not only in the second half of the game, but in our overall effort as well," Miller added. "Kari stepped up in the second half and pushed the tempo of the game for us while also grabbing some key boards and knocked some big buckets in our second-half run."
Myqueisha Bratton led five Cougars in double figures with 27 points as the hosts also racked up 16 steals and out rebounded Goshen 41-26.
The Maple Leafs (1-9, 0-3 MCC) will be back on the floor on Monday as they host non-conference foe Trinity Christian College at 7 p.m.