Sophomore forward/center Mary O'Keefe (Edwardsville, Illinois) scored a career-high 26 points as the University of Southern Indiana women's basketball team defeated No. 24 Lewis University, 68-55, in a Great Lakes Valley Conference tilt Thursday evening at the Physical Activities Center.
O'Keefe scored the Screaming Eagles' first eight points as USI and Lewis battled to an 8-8 tie early in the contest.
Despite owning a seven-point lead with 5:29 to play in the first half, the Eagles saw the visiting Flyers reel off nine straight points to forge a 30-28 lead late in the period. The two teams swapped two-point leads in the closing stages of the period, but an O'Keefe jumper with 47 seconds left sent the two teams into the break in a 34-34 stalemate.
In a first half that saw seven ties and eight lead changes, it came as somewhat of a surprise that O'Keefe's bucket to open the second half put the Eagles up for good.
O'Keefe, who added eight rebounds and two assists—both of which came when she quickly tipped an inbounds pass back to the player inbounding the ball for easy scores—had six of the Eagles' first eight points in the second half to put USI in front, 42-38, with 14:33 to play.
Her effort started a decisive 16-4 spurt that staked the Eagles to a commanding 56-42 lead with seven minutes on the clock. USI, which got scoring contributions from four different players during the outburst, held the Flyers scoreless for nearly four minutes and to no field goals for nearly five minutes during its run.
The Eagles, who did not make a single three-pointer, eventually built their advantage to as much as 18 with three minutes to play before settling on the 13-point win. USI's 0-of-7 effort from three-point range was the first time since March 4, 2005 that the Eagles have gone without a basket from three-point range—USI lost that game, 64-32, to Lewis in the GLVC Tournament at Roberts Stadium.
Joining O'Keefe in double figures was junior guard Ariel Barnes (Henderson, Kentucky), who had 13 points, four rebounds, and four assists. Sophomore forward/center Anna Hackert (Evansville, Indiana) saw her double-figure scoring streak stop at 15 games; but the two-time GLVC Player of the Week added a game-high 13 rebounds to her eight points.
USI also got nine points from sophomore guard Taylor Stevenson (Olney, Illinois) and four blocks from sophomore forward/center Cayla Herbst (Glen Ellyn, Illinois).
Senior guard Labrenthia Murdock paced the Flyers with 13 points, while freshman forward Mariyah Henley chipped in 11 points and 10 rebounds.
USI, which snapped the Flyers' five-game winning streak, returns to action Saturday at 1 p.m. when it hosts the University of Wisconsin-Parkside for Homecoming and its "Play4Kay" game at the PAC. The Rangers (13-7, 7-5 GLVC) fell to Kentucky Wesleyan College, 69-57, Thursday in Owensboro, Kentucky.
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