EVANSVILLE, IN (WFIE) - University of Southern Indiana Women's Basketball got a combined 15 points from its senior class Saturday evening as it held on for a 68-59 Great Lakes Valley Conference victory over East Division rival Bellarmine University on Senior Night at the Physical Activities Center.
Senior forward Morgan Dahlstrom (Grayslake, Illinois) had seven of her team-leading 17 points in the final 10 minutes, while senior guard/forward Kaydie Grooms (Marshall, Illinois) added six of her 14 points and three of her four blocks in the fourth quarter. Senior guard Randa Harshbarger (Philo, Illinois) scored two of her 11 points after keeping the Eagles afloat in a shaking their period.
After the No. 9/15 Screaming Eagles went into the break with a 39-25 halftime advantage, USI saw its lead trimmed to just six points (46-40) at the end of three quarters. Harshbarger scored six points in the third period for the Eagles, who went just 1-of-10 (.100) from the field while being outscored 15-7.
USI (21-2, 13-1 GLVC), which led by as much as 18 points early in the second period, saw its advantage shrink to three with a minute to play in the contest. Dahlstrom, however, hit a jumper with 42 seconds left in the game to give USI a 64-59 lead; then, following a steal by junior forward Kacy Eschweiler (St. Charles, Missouri), the Eagles extended their lead to six after a Harshbarger free throw.
Harshbarger had a steal on the next Bellarmine possession and, with 12 seconds on the clock, hit 1-of-2 free throws to put USI in front, 66-59. Grooms drained two more free throws in the closing seconds as the Eagles extended their winning streak to a GLVC-best 10 games.
In addition to her scoring totals, Dahlstrom earned her league-leading 11th double-double of the year as she finished with 11 rebounds and four steals. Eschweiler added nine points, six rebounds and a career-high five steals, while junior guard Alex Davidson (Salem, Indiana) chipped in 11 points, five rebounds, three assists and three steals.
The Eagles, who led from start-to-finish, jumped out to a commanding 24-6 lead a minute into the second quarter, but the Knights roared back to cut USI's advantage to eight with a 12-2 run. Davidson's three-pointer with less than five minutes to play in the opening half ended a nearly three-minute long scoring drought for the Eagles and gave USI life heading into the intermission.
USI outscored the Knights, 13-7, in the final five minutes of the second quarter as it built the 14-point halftime advantage.
The Eagles, who wrapped up their regular-season home schedule with a perfect 15-0 mark, hit the road for the final four games of the regular season, starting with a trip to Liberty, Missouri, Thursday at 5:30 p.m. to take on West Division opponent William Jewell College.
Notes: The Eagles recorded their first perfect record at the PAC since 2000-01 and their first 15-win season at the PAC since 1996-97…USI honored its senior class of Dahlstrom, Harshbarger, Grooms and manager Sydney Session following Saturday's game…USI Head Coach Rick Stein, who earned his 300th win over an NCAA Division II opponent, improved to 7-5 against his former boss, Bellarmine Head Coach Chancellor Dugan. Dugan is a member of USI's Hall of Fame…Bellarmine is the last team to defeat USI at the PAC.