The University of Southern Indiana women's basketball team could not overcome an early hole as the Screaming Eagles suffered a disappointing 65-62 Great Lakes Valley Conference setback to host Bellarmine University Thursday evening.
USI (17-7, 9-7 GLVC) trailed by as many as 19 points midway through the second period, but an 8-0 run that featured a three-point play by sophomore forward/center Anna Hackert (Evansville, Indiana) brought the Eagles back to within 11 (54-43) with six minutes to play.
Another three-point play by Hackert later in the period ended a 5-0 Bellarmine run and cut the deficit to 13; then with two minutes left in the contest, Hackert converted her third three-point play of the second half to pull USI to within 10 points.
Junior guard Stephanie Carpenter (Salem, Illinois) drained a three-pointer with 1:20 to play to cut the deficit to 62-54 and as Bellarmine struggled from the free throw line—the Knights made just 1-of-6 from the charity stripe in the final minute—the Eagles got even closer with baskets from Hackert and junior guard Ariel Barnes (Henderson, Kentucky).
Carpenter's free throws with 10 seconds in the game to 63-60 and, on the ensuing inbounds play, USI nearly came away with a steal to regain possession.
Following a tie-up—which kept possession in the Knights' favor—and a Bellarmine time out with less than eight seconds on the clock, senior guard Kylie Brady found fellow classmate Betsy Goodin streaking down court for a game-clinching layup.
Barnes hit a shot at the buzzer, but it was too little, too late for an Eagle squad that had to fight out of an early deficit throughout the game.
After falling behind by 22-6 eight minutes into the contest, the Eagles chipped away at the deficit and trailed 28-19 following a three-pointer by junior guard Aubrey Minix (Grovertown, Indiana).
Bellarmine (18-9, 8-8 GLVC), which made seven of its first eight shots, answered the Eagles' charge with a 6-1 run to build a 34-20 advantage; but the Eagles scored four straight points to end the first period and cut the Knights' lead to 34-24 at the intermission.
Sophomore forward/center Mary O'Keefe (Edwardsville, Illinois), who had a big steal that led to a basket in the closing seconds of the first half, continued the Eagles' push in the opening stages of the second period as she scored five straight points to bring USI to within five points (34-29).
Brady, however, drained a three-pointer to start an 8-0 Bellarmine run, which ended the Eagles' momentum and put the Knights up, 42-29, with 16 minutes on the clock.
Hackert led the Eagles with a game-high 19 points and 11 rebounds, bringing her double-double count to 10 on the season, while O'Keefe finished with five points, 10 rebounds, and three steals.
Senior guard Rachel Greenwell and sophomore forward Darion Hutchinson led the Knights with 14 and 13 points, respectively. Bellarmine shot 48.2 percent from the field and 41.7 percent from three-point range while out-rebounding USI, 45-35.
USI returns to action Saturday at 1 p.m. when it hosts McKendree University at the Physical Activities Center. McKendree (7-17, 2-14 GLVC) suffered a 71-62 setback to Kentucky Wesleyan College Thursday evening in Lebanon, Illinois.
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