Posted: Feb 26, 2013 1:39 PM
CANTON, MO - Central Methodist erased an early eight-point deficit to cruise to a 61-53 win at Culver-Stockton (Mo.) in the Heart of America Athletic Conference women's basketball regular-season finale for both teams.
The Eagles and Wildcats will square off again Thursday in Fayette, Mo., in the HAAC Tournament, which begins with the quarterfinal round. Monday's win, coupled with Baker's (Kan.) 85-80 loss to No. 12 Benedictine (Kan.), gives the Eagles the three-seed in the tournament for the second straight season. The Green and Black are 2-0 against the Wildcats in 2012-13.
Monday's win by the Eagles in Charles Fieldhouse along with Baker's loss will put Central Methodist ahead of Baker in the national poll when it is released on Tuesday. The Eagles should also be well within the top 32-ranked teams nationally, which is the number of teams that advance to the NAIA National Championship.
Culver-Stockton started the game on an 8-0 run with four coming from Lisa Plattner. Central Methodist then scored six straight before Shelsey Stanley buried consecutive threes to stretch the Wildcats' advantage back to eight, 14-6.
Down by nine, the Eagles began to find their rhythm offensively with a 9-0 spurt. Nakia Robinson tied the game at 18 with a three-pointer with seven minutes on the clock. The Eagles took their first lead of the night following a Brooke Paulsell trey with 4:25 to go in half. Sammie Gathercole found Paulsell in transition for another three to increase Central Methodist's lead to six with 2:35 to play.
Gathercole then found Raylyn Nuss for the last bucket of the half, which came from distance in the corner, to make the score 31-26 at halftime. Paulsell led all scorers with nine points at the break on three (3-of-3) made treys.
The Eagles increased their advantage to 13 points with an 8-0 run to start the second half. Britney Joseph found Cornelison in the paint for an easy layup, making the score 39-26 four minutes into the period. The lead grew to as many as 18, 48-30, at the 13:39 mark following two Poteete free throws.
The Wildcats closed within 11 with 8:07 to go thanks to a Randi Lee Plunkett jumper, but Robinson turned a trip in the paint into a conventional three-point play, giving the visitors a 55-41 upper hand two minutes later. Culver-Stockton never got within single digits until Kati Davis' bank shot as time expired.
Paulsell, Poteete and Robinson tallied 10 points apiece. Cornelison and Nuss each had eight. Joseph added seven.
Central Methodist's Towanda Sutton had a team-leading nine rebounds. Cornelison and Joseph added eight and seven, respectively, for the Eagles, who outrebounded the home team 46-40.
Davis and Plunkett each posted 12 points. Davis also pulled down 12 rebounds for a double-double effort.
The Wildcats' Mimi Reaves, who entered Monday as the leading scorer in the HAAC at 18.6 points per game, finished with only nine on 1-of-9 shooting and 0-of-4 from distance. She was 7-of-8 from the free throw line.