Big first half lifts Eagles to eighth straight win

Big first half lifts Eagles to eighth straight win


Sophomore guard Tanner Marcum (New Albany, Indiana) and senior forward/center Anna Hackert (Evansville, Indiana) combined for 27 first-half points as the University of Southern Indiana women's basketball team cruised to a 77-62 victory over Northwest Nazarene University Thursday in the first round of the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic.

Hackert, who finished with 14 points and four rebounds, scored nine of her 12 first-half points in the first five minutes of the contest as the Screaming Eagles jumped out to a quick 12-4 lead.

USI (8-1) extended its lead to double-figures when Marcum canned the first of three shots from behind the arc.

Northwest Nazarene (3-7) used a 6-0 run to trim USI's lead to 20-16 with nine minutes to play in the opening period, but a three-point play by Hackert stopped a four-and-a-half minute USI scoring drought and gave the Eagles a seven point edge.

The Eagles led by five with less than six minutes left in the opening period when a pass by Marcum led to a bucket by senior forward/center Mary O'Keefe (Edwardsville, Illinois). That basket started a 20-4 run by the Eagles, who went into the locker room with a comfortable 47-26 halftime advantage.

Marcum scored eight of her 15 first-half points during the 20-4 run, including a three-pointer as time expired on the opening period.

O'Keefe, who also finished in double-figures, scored eight points in the first four minutes of the second half as the Eagles quickly extend their lead to 28 (57-29) with 16:41 to play in the game.

Northwest Nazarene, which trailed by as many as 29, made a furious comeback in the closing minutes of the game as it trimmed the Eagles' advantage to 13 (73-60) with less than three minutes to go in the contest.

O'Keefe, however, hit layups in back-to-back possessions as the Eagles put an end to the Crusaders' surge.

Marcum, who was 7-of-10 from the field and 3-of-4 from three-point range, led the Eagles with a game-high 21 points, while O'Keefe finished with 15 points and eight rebounds. O'Keefe scored 13 points in the second half.

The Eagles shot 48.2 percent (27-56) from the field, including 54.5 percent (18-33) in the opening frame. They forced the Crusaders into 26 turnovers, including 15 in the first 20 minutes.

Junior guard Taylor Simmons led the Crusaders with 20 points, nine rebounds, and five assists.

USI concludes the South Point Holiday Hoops Classic and its non-conference schedule Friday at 3:15 p.m. when it takes on Western Washington University. The Vikings (5-3) were slated to play No. 4 West Texas A&M Thursday afternoon.

Provided by USI Sports Information Department