Following Thursday’s game against Campbellsville, head coach Lena Bramblett said her team must forget about the 90-70 loss and get ready for Saturday’s Lindsey Wilson game.
The Patriots were, indeed, ready for the Blue Raiders on Saturday as they built a 17 point lead in the first half, saw that advantage completely disappear and then regrouped to pull out the 73-69 victory.
It was a return to action for Janae Howard, the senior forward who had not played since the season opener due to stress fractures in both legs. While playing 21 minutes, Howard had15 points, five rebounds and was 9-9 at the foul line.
“Of course it is a team effort and all of our kids contributed and played hard,” said Bramblett. “But we do get a big confidence boost when she is playing because Janae is such a big part of what we do on offense. It takes a lot of pressure off our players who are in the three, four and five positions.”
The win was definitely a group effort. Reilly Poirier, fifth in the nation in scoring, had 18 points, Alexiss Griffin had 12 and Carol Ruiz-Lopez added 11, all of those from Lopez in the first half that ended with the Patriots holding a 43-31 lead.
Lindsey Wilson chipped away at that lead until finally forging ahead 59-58 with 6:53 to play. St. Catharine quickly regained the lead on two Machera Calhoun free throws but the Blue Raiders (4-3, 2-3) took their second lead of the game (69-68) with 49 seconds to play when All-American Ashley Rainey scored on a put-back following a block by Rianne Hofstraat.
Griffin then canned a clutch trey at the: 31 mark to put the Patriots ahead 71-69. Howard added two free throws with 12 seconds left for the final margin.
“You can’t really expect to shut down Rainey but I thought we did a good job of containing her,” added Bramblett of the Blue Raiders’ star who ended with 17 points and 11 rebounds.
Lindsey Wilson, ranked 17th nationally, shot just 36 percent from the field including 30 percent (8-27) from three point range. The Patriots shot 45 percent overall and were 33 percent (7-21) from long range. The Blue Raiders were 13-19 at the foul line while the Patriots made 16 of 18 at the charity stripe.
The visitors held a 40-30 rebounding advantage led by Rainey’s 11 boards. Hofstraat had six rebounds to lead the Patriots. She also had six blocked shots which keeps her as the NAIA national leader with 3.12 blocks a game.
The Patriots now embark on a non-conference portion of the schedule for the remainder of the month. That starts this weekend at the Olivet Nazarene Classic in Illinois. Friday the Patriots play the host Olivet Nazarene team that is ranked 12th in NAIA Division II and Saturday they take on Robert Morris who is 27th in NAIA D-I. Then it is on to Tennessee where the Patriots will play an exhibition game on Sunday against NCAA D-I Austin Peay.