Posted: Feb 23, 2013 6:53 PM
Updated: Feb 23, 2013 7:56 PM
FAYETTE, MO -- Central Methodist's bench outscored Baker's reserves 35-8,leading the Eagles to a 75-63 Heart of America Athletic Conference women's basketball win on Saturday over the Wildcats.
The Eagles' Brittney Hotsenpiller, Raylyn Nuss and Towanda Sutton also picked up a victory in their final regular-season game in Puckett Fieldhouse. Central Methodist (22-6, 11-6 HAAC), which is already assured of at least one home game in the HAAC Tournament, is still vying for the third seed after dropping Baker (19-10, 12-5 HAAC). If the Eagles defeat Culver-Stockton (Mo.) in Canton, Mo, on Monday and the Wildcats lose to No. 12 Benedictine (Kan.), then the Green and Black earn the three-seed by virtue of tiebreakers.
Saturday's win also helps Central Methodist's resume as the Eagles push for the NAIA Division I National Championship. Both teams entered Saturday receiving votes in the most recent Top 25 Poll.
Baker had the hot hand early, as BriAnna Garza and Alisha Fanshier hit back-to-back threes for the Wildcats to build a 12-4 lead 6:20 into the game. Baker outrebounded Central Methodist 12-5 and 5-1 on the offensive glass through the first eight minutes, but a 12-0 run by the Eagles, which began when Jasmine Poteete found Sutton in transition for a conventional three-point play, gave the Green and Black their first lead of the afternoon, 16-12, midway through the period.
Brooke Paulsell found Nuss with a hailmary pass on the fastbreak to make the score 30-20 in favor of Central Methodist as part of a 12-1 spurt towards the end of the first half. Kyra Williams found Britney Joseph in the paint as the Eagles stretched their first-period advantage to as many as 17 with 40 seconds to play, and Central Methodist led 40-24 at the break.
The Wildcats, who entered Saturday as the top three-point shooting team in the HAAC, struggled in the first 20 minutes going 4-of-16 (25 percent). Baker shot 23.5 percent (8-of-34) overall, while the Eagles were 46.9 percent (15-of-32) from the field.
Baker opened the second half on an 8-2 run to get back into the game, including an old-fashioned three-point play by Rashida Simpson. A Rece Huddlin conventional three-point play trimmed the deficit to 44-39 at the 15:14 mark.
Joseph turned a spin move in the paint into a much-needed layup at the 6:45 mark, making the score 52-46 with Central Methodist ahead. Nakia Robinson then picked up a loose ball and drilled a trey with 4:36 on the clock, increasing the difference back to double digits, 59-48.
With her team down by six with 3:30 to play, Fanshier attempted to cut the deficit to one possession with a three in the corner, but Poteete blocked the shot, which seemed to be the dagger to the Wildcats. Poteete's block turned into six straight points by the Eagles, with Poteete picking up a fastbreak layup and assist in the paint during the stretch on a feed to Cornelison.
Paulsell converted two free throws as part of a bonus to put Central Methodist up 66-55 with 1:30 to play before Fanshier hit a three to trim Baker's deficit to eight. However, the Eagles converted 9-of-10 from the free throw line in the final 1:17 to seal the triumph.
Cornelison led the Eagles with 14 points on 4-of-6 shooting and perfection (6-of-6) from the charity stripe. Joseph finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. Robinson and Sutton had 11 points apiece.
Huddlin led all scorers with 20 points. Garza added 12. Simpson had nine.
Huddlin and Simpson each tallied 11 rebounds.