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Culler leads experienced Foresters in her 30th season at the university helm

by Rachel TerMarsch

PULL UP: Amelia Recker, a senior forward, takes a jump shot in a 2014 game against Holy Cross. After the team's first five games this season, she is averaging 18.2 points per contest. (Photo provided by HU Athletics)

PULL UP: Amelia Recker, a senior forward, takes a jump shot in a 2014 game against Holy Cross. After the team’s first five games this season, she is averaging 18.2 points per contest. (Photo provided by HU Athletics)

The women’s basketball team began their 2015-2016 season with a 4-1 record, headlined by two wins over ranked opponents in #2 Davenport University and #11 Purdue Calumet.

This season, the Foresters are led by three senior starters – Amelia Recker, Jaclene Bonnema and Kelsey Hubble. Junior Miranda Palmer, who led the team in scoring last season with 18.8 points a contest, also returns. Recker chipped in an average of 16.2 points in the post last season. Both Recker and Bonnema pulled down team-high rebounds each game in 2014-2015.

Junior Allyson Trout has joined the starting line-up this season, while head coach Lori Culler looks to transfer sophomore Hailey Krewald and freshman Maddie Richer to fill the open point guard role left after Courtney Baker graduated last season.

Despite the home court advantage, #17 Huntington was considered the underdog headed into the Crossroad League/WHAC Classic on Nov. 6 against powerhouse Davenport.

After a slow start, in which neither team scored for nearly three minutes, the game came to life in a close contest where no more than seven points separated the two teams.

As each team headed into the locker room at the half, Davenport claimed a 31-28 lead. Huntington and Davenport exchanged numerous lead changes and five tied scores in the fourth period, but as regulation came to a close, the score was locked at 58-58.

The Panthers jumped out to an early 62-58 lead, but following a 9-0 run — started by Hubble — Davenport never recovered. They scored just one more basket before the final buzzer sounded, lifting HU to a 67-64 win.

“It gave us a glimpse of what we’re capable of when we play well,” Culler said. “We aren’t going to be entering too many other games this season where we’ll be considered the underdog.”

After posting 21 points against Davenport, Palmer was just 12 points shy of joining Huntington’s 1,000-point club as she headed into the next day’s contest against Aquinas.

After swiping the ball at half court, Palmer reached the milestone with a lay-up with roughly three minutes left in the third period.

“Hitting the 1,000-point milestone is an exciting honor,” Palmer said. “I felt so much support from my team, and I am so grateful for that.”

Recker, a senior who also joined the 1,000 point club her junior season, said that Palmer’s success comes from her hard work and skills but also from her love for the game.

“It’s easy to be successful when you are doing something you like to do,” Recker said.

Culler echoed Recker and said Palmer spends extra time in the gym honing in on her craft.

“Her success is definitely no accident,” Culler said.

Three days later, the Foresters beat yet another nationally-ranked team in Purdue Calumet University. But their week ended in disappointment on the road at  Judson University, who provided the first blemish on the Foresters’ roster.

“Losing to Judson reminds us that we can’t take any games off or underestimate anyone,” Palmer said. “We have to show up to play every time.”

Moving forward, Culler said she is optimistic about the season and the capability that her team has, even if it puts “a bigger target on our backs.”

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