A slow start set the tone for a sluggish Sunday afternoon for the McKendree University women’s basketball team.
Playing in their first Great Lakes Valley Conference Tournament game, the eighth-seeded Bearcats fell behind 19-8 in the second quarter and 30-14 in the third quarter en route to a 60-47 loss to ninth-seeded Indianapolis.
McKendree, which defeated the host Greyhounds 54-51 on Jan. 23, finished 12-17. Indianapolis (10-19) will play in the quarterfinals Thursday at Family Arena in St. Charles, Mo.
“I felt like the first three, four minutes of the game, we came out attacking. We were rolling,” first-year McKendree coach Kari Kerkhoff said. “Then after the first three minutes or so, we got very tentative and just passed and passed. We didn’t get that dribble penetration and those attacking cuts we had in the first three minutes. We couldn’t recover until after halftime.”
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McKendree sliced a 42-27 deficit in the fourth quarter to 44-39 on two free throws by junior Ellie Pusheck with 3:12 to play, but Indianapolis closed out the Bearcats with a 9-2 run.
Junior Nicole Anderson started the drive with a three-point play. After senior Kelsee Ennis scored on a driving layup for the Bearcats, sophomore Sarah Costello, senior Princess German and sophomore Devin Ferguson each made two free throws to put Indianapolis ahead 53-41 with 1:40 to play.
German, a guard, led all scorers with 22 points for the Greyhounds. Costello had 16 points, eight rebounds and five steals. Indianapolis also helped its cause by going 26-for-32 from the free-throw line, including 23-for-27 in the second half.
“It’s not easy to go on the road and play,” Greyhounds coach Constantin Popa said. “You want to control the tempo; you want to control the game. It started on our defensive end. Especially that first half, we did a pretty good job controlling the defensive end. That created some stuff for us in the offense. We were more offensive-minded in this game.
“We got to the free-throw line, and that’s huge. That’s always an emphasis for my team and any team around. You’ve got to get to that free-throw line. We got to the free-throw line, especially down the stretch, and we made the free throws.”
McKendree, which shot just 32 percent (18-for-56), was led by Ennis’ 14 points and two 3-pointers. Senior Kacey Johnson had nine points, Pusheck had eight points and three steals and freshman Jordan Morton had a team-best seven rebounds.
The Bearcats shot 24 percent (6-for-25) in the first half.
“We had 15 more shots than them, and we didn’t shoot very well,” Kerkhoff said. “Part of that was the passes that we were delivering to the people shooting it. The other part of it was having that confidence when we were taking the shot. We just got too passive instead of being aggressive like we were in the first four minutes.”
Too much German
McKendree had hoped to limit German, the Greyhounds’ leading scorer at 21.1 points per game. But German was 5-for-12 from the field and 10-for-10 from the line, topping her average. She also had six rebounds and had just two turnovers in 40 minutes.
“Princess was Princess,” Popa said. “She brings a lot to the team. She’s the only player that’s been with us for three years. Everybody else is brand new, pretty much. When you see her going as hard as she does, people are going to follow.”
Kerkhoff called German “a great player.”
“When they need a bucket, they go to her,” she said. “She can create. She’s got a great outside shot and can drive to the basket. I would not be shocked if she’s an all-conference player.”