By Matthew Hunter
Right from the tip on Jan. 31, the Kentucky Christian University women’s basketball team played like they had something to prove. Maybe they did, after losing their previous matchup with Asbury 87-78 in overtime earlier this year.
Following the Knights’ first four points, including senior Tanya Bowens’ made jump shot, Asbury Eagles head coach Bart Flener immediately asked for a pause in the action. “I didn’t want her (Bowens) to get into a real rhythm,” Flener said. “We wanted to get her out of rhythm as soon as possible. She can single-handedly win the game.”
After the timeout, KCU (11-9) continued their hot start hitting seven of nine baskets. But AU had no problem matching their shots. The purple-and-white never trailed again after senior Sam Burr’s lay-in with 6:35 left to play in the first 20 minutes.
The Eagles (18-4, 8-2) began to tighten up their defense gaining a five-point edge with 3:37 left. Kentucky Christian coach then received a technical foul from arguing calls. Senior Ellie Steiner sank the two technical free throws to make it 39-32.
Following the technical fouls the visitors hit just one shot from the field in the final 3:37 in the half. Add in reserve freshman Molly Harlin’s corner 3-point dagger at the 2:04 mark to boost AU’s lead to 45-35 with the crucial shooting slump, and KCU was doomed for the rest of the night.
The hosts led 50-38 at intermission thanks to balance scoring from the starting five. Burr led her team with nine points; juniors Kelli Rinehart and Annissia Wood had eight and seven, sophomore Kylee Gorby chipped in six, and Steiner finished the half with five.
Kentucky Christian junior Jana Glick’s 10 points and six boards led the Knights. Bowens, Kentucky Christian’s all-time leading scorer, led all players with 14 points.
As the second stanza began, it was much of the same for the Eagles. The home team used rebounding superiority and sharpshooting to keep their distance from the in-state school.
The ladies made a controlled effort to take Bowens out of her flow to help Asbury dominate the second frame. “As the game went along I thought we did a pretty good job on her after the initial start,” Coach Flener stated. AU then took a game-high 25-point lead and never looked back.
Gorby completed her all-around game with 10 points, five rebounds, eight assists, and two steals. Burr notched a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds including 10 on the offensive side.
Two other Eagles achieved double-figure scoring in Wood with 14 and Rinehart with 12. In addition, freshman Kali Whiteside contributed a solid six points and nine rebounds in 14 minutes of play. Flener was pleased with everyone on Friday night saying,
“Almost everybody that played, they played really well,” she said. “We scored 96 points, and our leading scorer only had 14 points, so that tells you we had good scoring spread.”
With seven games left in the regular season Asbury is sitting atop the KIAC standings with an eye on the KIAC title.
Flener said, “If we can really focus on getting better defensively and playing with great energy,
we’ll be a tough out in the conference tournament. We’ll stand a good chance of winning that thing.”