EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Senior guard Ashley Johnson matched her career-high of 22 points Saturday afternoon as University of Southern Indiana Women’s Basketball earned an 81-68 Great Lakes Valley Conference road win over league-newcomer Lindenwood University at Robert F. Hyland Arena.
Johnson’s performance, which included five rebounds, six assists and two steals, highlighted an all-around impressive performance for the Screaming Eagles, who were facing a Lindenwood team that advanced to the NCAA II Central Region Tournament in 2018-19 before joining the GLVC last summer.
USI (12-6, 8-4 GLVC) used a strong defensive effort to set the tone in the opening half as it held the Lions, who entered the game as the GLVC’s third-highest scoring team after dropping 103 points on McKendree University Thursday evening, to just 28.1 percent (9-32) shooting before the intermission.
The Eagles, meanwhile, went 15-of-30 (.500) from the field in the first 20 minutes as they finished a first half that featured four ties and eight lead changes with a 33-27 lead.
A pair of three-pointers and a layup by junior guard Emma DeHart in the first four minutes of the third quarter helped the Eagles extend their halftime advantage to 48-33.
Lindenwood (11-7, 7-5 GLVC), however, surged back as it scored nine straight points in less than two minutes to trim the Eagles’ lead to 48-42.After a three-point play by Lindenwood senior forward Kallie Bildner cut the Eagles’ lead to just six points with just under four minutes to play in the third quarter, freshman forward Hannah Haithcock answered with a quick layup to briefly halt the Lions’ surge.
The Lions, however, continued to threaten USI’s lead as they scored the next four points to get to within four points with just under two minutes left to play in the period.
Haithcock, who scored 11 of her 15 points in the second half, once again ended Lindenwood’s run after scoring on an offensive put back. Senior guard Kiara Moses got a steal and a fast-break layup on Lindenwood’s next possession, while an old-fashioned three-point play by Johnson put the Eagles up 57-46 heading into the fourth quarter.
Moses’s three-pointer a minute into the fourth quarter put the Eagles up by 12, while a three-pointer by Johnson less than two minutes later put USI up 63-53. Lindenwood got to within seven points late in the game, but the Eagles hit 12-of-13 free throw attempts in the final 90 seconds to secure the 13-point victory.
In addition to Johnson and Haithcock, the Eagles got 12 points from DeHart and 10 points from freshman guard Addy Blackwell. Nine different players scored for the Eagles, including freshman forward Tara Robbe, who had nine points, and sophomore forward Ashlynn Brown, had had four points and a team-high seven rebounds. Moses added five points, all of which came in the second half.
Bildner led the Lions with a game-high 25 points and 12 rebounds, while sophomore guard Devin Fuhring added 21 points. Senior guard Lindsay Medlen, who surpassed the 1,000-career point plateau in the loss, added 15 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
USI returns to action Thursday at 5:15 p.m. when it visits Maryville University in St. Louis, Missouri. The Eagles close out their four-game road trip with a stop in Rolla, Missouri, next Saturday to take on Missouri University of Science & Technology.
Notes: The Eagles turn around and face Lindenwood at Screaming Eagles Arena February 13, before hosting the University of Missouri-St. Louis for Homecoming February 15...USI improved to 5-1 on the year in GLVC road games.