USI Women’s Basketball wins Season Opener over Ohio Dominican

Published: Nov. 12, 2021 at 11:50 PM CST
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Junior point guard Addy Blackwell (Bloomington, Indiana) drained 9-of-10 fourth-quarter free throws and University of Southern Indiana Women’s Basketball rode a strong first-half defensive effort en-route to a 64-58 season-opening win over Ohio Dominican University Friday evening at the Midwest Region Crossover.

The Screaming Eagles (1-0), who led wire-to-wire, racked up 17 first-half steals and held the Panthers to just seven points throughout the first 16 minutes of the game as they built a 30-18 lead heading into the intermission.

USI’s offense struggled to get going early in the contest, but a 10-0 run midway through the second period that featured three-pointers by junior forward Hannah Haithcock (Washington Courthouse, Ohio) and senior guard Ashley Hunter (Flossmoor, Illinois) put USI up 20-7.

Hunter’s three-pointer less than two minutes into the second half put USI up, 37-23, but Ohio Dominican was able to cut USI’s advantage to single digits midway through the third period.

USI, however, erupted for eight straight points in a two-minute span that turned a 41-32 cushion into a commanding 17-point lead late in the third frame. Hunter, who finished with 15 points, six rebounds and four steals, started the run off with a three-pointer before scoring on a transition jumper a minute later. Freshman guard Vanessa Shafford (Linton, Indiana) connected on a three-pointer to cap off the eight-point surge.

Ohio Dominican (0-1), which trailed 49-34 heading into the fourth and by as much as 17 in the final 10 minutes, continued to chip away at USI’s lead. The Panthers drained six of their eight three-pointers in the fourth quarter as they pulled to within 56-50 with 2:30 to play.

Junior guard Tori Handley (Jeffersonville, Indiana) scored with two minutes to play to put the Eagles up, 58-50, but Ohio Dominican second-year freshman Gabby Stare, who had a game-high tying 16 points, answered with a basket to get the Panthers back to within six points with less than 90 seconds on the clock.

Blackwell, who had 11 points and three steals, went 6-for-6 from the charity stripe in the final 86 seconds as USI led 64-55 before Ohio Dominican junior guard Kennedy Schlabach connected on a three-pointer as time expired to cut USI’s winning margin to six points. Schlabach also had 16 points in the loss.

In addition to Hunter and Blackwell, the Eagles got nine points from Haithcock as well as eight points and seven rebounds from senior forward Ashlynn Brown (Perrysburg, Ohio). Sophomore forward Meredith Raley (Haubstadt, Indiana) came off the bench to score eight points and grab a team-high eight rebounds as the Eagles’ reserves outscored the Panthers’ bench 17-6.

USI returns to action Saturday at 3:15 p.m. (CST) when it takes on host Cedarville University. The Yellow Jackets were playing Lake Superior State University Friday night.

Notes: USI did not have a free throw attempt until Blackwell went 9-of-10 in the fourth quarter...Blackwell was the only USI player to shoot a free throw Friday night...the Eagles finished the game with 20 steals, the most since they racked up 21 steals in an 85-26 win over Harris-Stowe State University December 16, 2017...the Eagles improved to 27-20 all-time in season-openers with their win over Ohio Dominican, including 17-6 under Head Coach Rick Stein...Stein is now just 11 wins shy of 400 for his career...USI saw nine of its 10 players that saw the court Friday night contribute in the scoring column, while nine different Eagles had at least one steal...USI also had rebounding contributions from all of its 10 players that got in the game as the Eagles out-rebounded the Panthers, 43-36.

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