Dearing leads way in USI season-opener

HUNTSVILLE, AL(WFIE) - Junior guard Kendyl Dearing (Huntingburg, Indiana) had a career-high 22 points as the University of Southern Indiana women's basketball team rolled to a 77-46 season-opening victory over The University of Alabama Huntsville Saturday afternoon.

After scoring the final four points in the final 10 seconds of the first quarter to build an 18-17 lead, the Screaming Eagles outscored the host Chargers 30-10 in the second period to build a commanding 48-27 halftime advantage.

USI trailed 17-14 with less than 10 seconds to play in the first quarter when junior guard Tanner Marcum (New Albany, Indiana) was fouled trying to corral a rebound. The foul was the fifth of the quarter for the Chargers, which sent Marcum to the line for the two free throws.

Marcum sank both free throws; then got a steal and a layup on Alabama-Huntsville's ensuing possession to give the Screaming Eagles the one-point lead heading into the second quarter.

Dearing continued the Eagles' run early in the second quarter with an old-fashioned three-point play; then freshman forward/center Mikayla Rowan (Brazil, Indiana) scored on a layup to put USI up 23-17.

USI (1-0) used an 11-0 run later in the period to go up 36-22; then scored 10 straight points to end the half with a 21-point advantage. Dearing had eight of her 13 points in the second quarter, while sophomore guard/forward Kaydie Grooms (Marshall, Illinois) had 10 of her 12 first-half points in the second period.

The Eagles shot 69.0 percent (20-29) from the field in the opening half, including 86.7 percent (13-15) from the floor in the second quarter.

Alabama-Huntsville scored five straight points to open the second half; but USI responded with an 8-0 run to quell the Chargers' surge and build its largest lead of the contest (56-32) at that juncture.

In addition to Dearing, who was 9-of-12 from the field and 3-of-5 from three-point range, the Eagles got 15 points and eight rebounds from Grooms as well as 13 points and nine rebounds from junior forward Hannah Wascher (Rantoul, Illinois). Sophomore guard Randa Harshbarger (Philo, Illinois) added a career-high seven assists and seven steals to the Eagles' cause.

USI shot 57.4 percent (31-54) from the field and 60.0 percent (6-10) from behind the arc, while the Chargers were held to a .318 shooting percentage (14-44) and a .227 clip (5-22) from three-point range.

The Eagles dominated the paint and the turnover battle. USI, which held a 37-22 rebounding advantage, outscored the Chargers 36-12 in the paint and had a 28-10 edge in points off turnovers.

USI opens its 2015-16 home schedule Tuesday at 6 p.m. when it hosts Midway University at the Physical Activities Center.