Victory is sweet, especially when it’s against the defending NAIA Division II national champions. The Lady Foresters bounced right back from their Jan. 17 buzzer-beater loss to Grace College to pull off a 68-63 upset against the University of St. Francis Cougars.
The game pitted last season’s Crossroads League coaches of the year against one another. HU’s Lori Culler would prevail in the important victory for the Foresters.
The Foresters never looked back as they maintained the lead for the half and the game against the Cougars.
Coming out of the locker room, the Foresters would once again go on a scoring run to lead by as many as 14.
Kelsey Hubble was on fire, hitting eight of 11 of her field goals and sinking four of five of her deadly treys for a team-high 22 points. Miranda Palmer secured a solid 20 points along with eight assists. Jaclene Bonnema pulled down eight rebounds while the Forester bench added 13 points, with seven of those belonging to sophomore Allyson Trout.
Culler praised Trout for her hard working paying off, stating that Trout appeared more comfortable on the court.
Bonnema said Culler’s instruction helped in improving her rebounding performance.
“Coach told us that rebounding is all about boxing out, being strong, and hustling, especially on the offensive end,” Bonnema said. “During the game, I try to focus on knowing when the shot is up, getting good rebound position, boxing out, and making the extra effort to be strong and hustle after the ball.”
With her team boasting 13 steals over the Cougars, Culler attributed the successful defensive action to executing the game plan of double teaming USF’s top two post players and playing the passing lanes hard.
USF showed why they are one of the top teams in the conference. The Cougars came claws out, battling back within two on two different occasions.
The duo of Hubble and Palmer, however, would get the Foresters back in their scoring rhythm to solidify the lead and outlast USF.
Hubble said her team’s offensive performance meant a lot in the “big win.”
“As a team, we all knew what we had to do to come out and beat St. Francis,” Hubble said. “I think we executed well, and it resulted in a big win for the team.”
Although HU (14-5) sits in fifth in the Crossroads League standings (5-4), they are one win away from joining Marian University, USF, and Taylor University who all have a 6-3 record in CL league matchups.
The next test of stamina will send the Foresters on the road against second-ranked Marian University Jan. 24.
“We both will go into that game with an understanding of the importance of the game,” Culler said. “We know they’ll be well prepared and coached. We have to take a look at what they did to us last time and defend, hopefully pulling out the win.”