College Sports

Balanced McKendree women too much for Lindenwood

For the last year, McKendree University women’s basketball coack Kari Kerkhoff has encouraged, and coaxed, senior Shannon McGinnis to become a bigger offensive threat.

If Saturday afternoon was an indication, Kerkhoff might have finally gotten through to McGinnis, who sparked the Bearcats past Lindenwood, 66-57.

The 5-foot-10 McGinnis, a native of Niles, turned in her best career game at McKendree with 10 points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and just one turnover in 33 minutes.

“Within our offense, when the flow is going, I’m just working on taking the right shots at the right time,” McGinnis said with a laugh, a few feet from Kerkhoff. “I will keep it up.”

Kerkhoff hopes that is indeed the case.

“Shannon (McGinnis) does what she’s supposed to in terms of taking shots in her area,” Kerkhoff said. “She does a great job of always crashing the boards and boxing out as well. I loved seeing her with six assists, with the fact that she still shot the ball nine times. Normally, she’ll have four or five assists, but two or three shots. That’s a huge improvement.

“If she can do that for us throughout the season and have a stat line like that, she’s going to be hard to defend. It was nice to see it for this game. She had a huge game.”

McKendree (2-1) got support from several others.

If she can do that for us throughout the season and have a stat line like that, she’s going to be hard to defend. It was nice to see it for this game. She had a huge game.

McKendree women’s basketball coach Kari Kerkhoff on senior Shannon McGinnis

Senior Amber Alexander scored 10 points and was 3-for-4 on 3-pointers; senior Emily Pusheck had 10 points off the bench; and freshmen Madison Hart, Andranae Wash and Megan Jensen scored eight points apiece, as McKendree fought off a late charge by the Lions (1-2). Jensen matched McGinnis with a team-high seven rebounds.

“I thought we played a great game overall,” said Kerkhoff, in her second season. “I would have liked to finish better in the last five minutes. That’s just learning the difference between us being in control and the time on the clock, and when to push in transition and when to kind of pull back and work it.”

The Bearcats, who led 16-7 after one quarter, 38-24 at halftime and 50-39 after three quarters, outrebounded Lindenwood 38-30 and were 15-for-20 from the free-throw line. McKendree, like Lindenwood, committed 24 turnovers but atoned for that with 18 assists.

“Eighteen assists on 24 (made) shots, I’ll take that any day,” Kerkhoff said. “A huge thing we talk about, besides rebounding and defending, is our assists. We need to be at 15 or above each game. That means we’re moving the ball really well, and people are taking shots that are in their area.”

Key moments

Lindenwood closed within 51-43 on an up-and-under layup by senior Alex Haley with 8:27 remaining.

On the Bearcats’ next possession, Pusheck canned a 15-footer to open a 9-0 run that put McKendree back in control at 60-43. Pusheck’s jumper came a few seconds after she had missed a layup on the previous possession.

“Emily’s elbow and baseline shots from 10, 12 feet, those are money for her,” Kerkhoff said. “When she shot it, I knew it was going in. It was great to see from a senior.”

The Lions answered McKendree’s surge with one of their own, scoring 11 straight points to inch within 60-54 with 1:26 left. The Bearcats clinched the win from the free-throw line, as Alexander, McGinnis, Hart and Pusheck combined to go 6-for-8 in a 40-second span.

McKendree survived an outstanding game from Lindenwood 6-3 freshman Kallie Bildner, who had 22 points, 12 rebounds and four 3-pointers. Bildner was 8-for-15 from the field.

David Wilhelm: 618-239-2665, @DavidMWilhelm