RENSSELAER, IN (WFIE) - University of Southern Indiana Women's Basketball could not overcome offensive miscues as it fell to Saint Joseph's College, 71-59, in the opening round of the Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament Sunday afternoon.
The Screaming Eagles (14-13) turned the ball over 17 times, including 13 in the first half, as Saint Joseph's built a 39-26 halftime advantage.
Saint Joseph's capitalized on six of those turnovers in the first quarter as it ended the period on 14-5 run to build an 18-10 lead heading into the second stanza.
The Pumas continued that success into the second frame, where they scored eight of the first 10 points to forge a commanding 26-12 lead with 7:30 to play in the half.
USI (14-13) cut the deficit to 10 early in the third period before using an 11-5 run to trim the Pumas' advantage to 53-49 with just over a minute to play in the period. Sophomore guard/forward Kaydie Grooms (Marshall, Illinois) had four of her team-high 17 points in the rally.
The Pumas (19-10), however, hit a pair of free throws to end the third frame with a 55-49 edge; then scored the first four points of the fourth period to push their lead back to double-digits.
USI, once again, cut into the Pumas' cushion, this time getting buckets from sophomore guard Randa Harshbarger (Philo, Illinois) and freshman forward/center Mikayla Rowan (Brazil, Indiana) to get to within six at 59-53 with just under seven minutes to play.
That would be as close as the Eagles would get, however, as Saint Joseph's responded with an 8-0 run to go up by 14 with just over two minutes to play in the game.
USI shot 42.9 percent from the field, but were out-rebounded 38-31. The Pumas hurt the Eagles with offensive rebounds in the first 20 minutes as they turned 10 offensive boards into 14 second-chance points.
In addition to Grooms, the Eagles got 12 points, five rebounds, and three assists from junior guard Tanner Marcum (New Albany, Indiana) as well as 12 points, five rebounds, and three blocks from junior forward Hannah Wascher (Rantoul, Illinois). Sophomore forward Morgan Dahlstrom (Grayslake, Illinois) added six points and a game-high tying nine rebounds.
Junior forward Kalea Parks had 26 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks to lead the Pumas, who shot 43.4 percent from the field. Senior guards Lauren Davis and Courtney Kvachkoff added 17 and 13 points, respectively.
USI ends the year after advancing to the GLVC Tournament for the fourth straight season. The Eagles, who did not have a senior on the team this year, are expected to return all 14 players on its roster in 2016-17.