Site: Ave Maria, Fla. (Golisano Field House)
Score: Madonna 75, No. 16 Bethel 49
Records: MU (8-5), BC (11-3)
Next MU event: Sunday, Dec. 30 – vs. No. 20 Auburn Montgomery (Ave Maria, Fla.) – 2 p.m.
AVE MARIA, Fla. – The Madonna University women's basketball team used a stingy defense that limited Bethel to shooting just 21 percent from the floor and forced the No. 16-ranked Pilots into 21 turnovers as MU upended Bethel, 75-49, on Saturday afternoon (Dec. 29) on day two of the Ave Maria Holiday Classic inside Golisano Field House.
Senior forward Kaylee McGrath (Livonia, Mich. / Stevenson) led MU with 19 points and eight rebounds while senior guard Heather Pratt (Flushing, Mich. / Flushing) added 16 points, hitting a trio of 3-pointers and sophomore guard Rachel Melcher (Sterling Heights, Mich. / Marian Catholic) rounded out the trio in double figures with 15 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Senior guard Shantelle Herring (Macomb, Mich. / Dakota) scored just two points put pulled in eight rebounds while recording seven assists to go along with a career-best eight steals as MU registered 13 takeaways on the day.
With the game tied at 6-6 early on, senior guard Kristie Porada (Rockwood, Mich. / Carlson) put MU on top for good with a jumper and 14:26 showing on the clock. The Crusaders' lead grew to eight, 14-6, thanks to an 8-0 run capped by a Melcher layup.
Bethel trimmed its deficit to just two, after a triple from Laura Johnson and a free throw by Kristen Hicks, that made it 14-12, but MU responded with a 19-2 run over the final 8:02 of the opening half to blow the game open and take a 33-14 lead into intermission.
The Pilots' 14 points were the second fewest the Crusaders have allowed in a first half this season and MU held BC to just 18.5 percent shooting (5-for-27) from the floor in the opening half.
The Madonna lead quickly grew to 25, 43-18, over the first 3:48 of the second half. The 10-4 run included five points from McGrath and four more from senior guard Michelle Lindsey (Bloomfield, Mich. / Marian Catholic) as MU took its largest lead of the game to that point.
The Crusaders' lead grew to as many as 30, 58-28, after a pair of Pratt free throws, before MU cruised to the 73-49 win.
MU converted 21 BC turnovers into 24 points while shooting 39.7 percent (23-for-58) from the floor and 45.8 percent (11-for-24) from beyond the arc in downing a ranked opponent for the first time since a win at then No. 3-ranked Davenport on Feb. 8.
The Crusaders wrap up their stay in Florida with a second straight game against a ranked opponent, taking on NAIA Division I No. 20 Auburn Montgomery in a 2 p.m. tip on Sunday (Dec. 30) at Ave Maria.
Contact: Patrick Moore (734) 432-5834
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