This week the St. Catharine College women enjoyed their first appearance in the national rankings as they were ranked 25th in the NAIA poll. But they nearly didn’t get to enjoy their new status long as they avoided an upset bid Thursday at Pikeville.
The Patriots (12-4, 6-3) held on for a 59-57 win over the Bears (5-11, 2-7) despite frigid first half shooting from the field and even colder free throw shooting in the second half. The first lead of the game for St. Catharine did not come until 1:28 was left in the game as they battled back from a 15 point second half deficit.
Trailing 56-55, Patriot forward Rianne Hofstraat canned a three point shot to give her team that first lead at 58-56. Neither team could get a field goal after that but each sank one free throw for the final margin.
St. Catharine trailed 30-20 at halftime as they shot 19 percent (6-31) from the field. They found the range in the second half at 62.5 percent (15-24) but still struggled to catch up due to 37 percent free throw shooting (7-19) after intermission.
But in the end, free throw shooting made the difference as the Patriots, fourth in the nation in free throw percentage at 74 percent, claimed their sixth consecutive victory. They ended the game 15-32 while the Bears were 8-13 at the line.
Janae Howard paced the Patriots with 18 points and eight rebounds. Reilly Poirier added 14 points and eight boards and Machera Calhoun had 10 points. Hofstraat had nine points and five of the season high 17 assists handed out by the Patriots.
Neither team was productive from behind the arc as St. Catharine shot 17 percent on 3-point attempts and Pikeville shot 18 percent on 3-17.
The Patriots’ road trip continues Saturday as they visit UVA-Wise (5-12, 2-6) for a 2:00 tip. With the win at Pikeville, the Patriots took possession of third place in the Mid-South Conference with a 6-3 record. Cumberland University and Campbellsville are tied for first at 8-1.