The No. 11 USF women’s basketball team held on for a 73-70 win over No. 1 Indiana Wesleyan University Saturday, January 7, 2006. The Lady Cougars led by 10 at halftime and as many as 13 in the second half before the Wildcats mounted a charge. USF withstood the IWU rally, defeating the Wildcats for the first time since 2001.
“We did a great job executing our game plan defensively until the end and we got some good looks on the other end of the floor too,” USF Head Coach Gary Andrews said. “We haven’t put it all together yet, haven’t played to our potential, but maybe this puts us in position to peak a little.”
USF led 66-55 after two Nicki Lewis free-throws for the Lady Cougars with 2:54 to play. Brooke Amstutz connected on a 3-pointer for IWU with nine seconds to play pulling IWU within two points, 72-70. IWU fouled Amanda Engleking, who missed both free throws with six seconds left, but freshman Bessie Jenkins rebounded the second missed shot and was fouled. She connected on the first free throw with four seconds to play, missed the second, but Liz Howerth’s pass was tipped away as time ran out.
Megan Dossen led USF with 17 points, 11 in the second half, and was one of five Lady Cougars in double figures. Sophomore Tara Dice came off the bench to score 15 points including nine on three 3-pointers. Junior center Chivonn Keppeler added 12 points, Lewis 11, and Lindy Carey 10. Cassie Reeder dished out nine assists and Dossen shared the top rebounding effort with Lewis, each corralling seven apiece to help USF beat a No. 1 team for the first time in the history of the program. USF also snapped a nine-game losing streak in its series with the Lady Wildcats.
Saint Francis opened the ball game with a turnover on its first possession but recovered to take a 2-0 lead on Megan Dossen’s jumper the next trip down. A Chivonn Keppeler bucket broke a 2-2 tie at the 18:40 mark and Dossen’s second hoop — a put-back of her own miss — put USF up 6-4, a lead it would never relinquish.
Leading 35-25 coming out of the locker room, the Lady Cougars extended their advantage to 13 points with 18:27 to play after a Nikki Lewis lay-in and Cassie Reeder free throw. IWU cut the lead to eight on Sarah McGill’s three-ball at 16:04, but Tara Dice’s long-range connection pushed the USF cushion back to 11, 45-34, at 15:36.
After Dice’s three, the Wildcats rattled off six-straight points in the next two minutes before Lindy Carey silenced the Wesleyan crowd with a three-pointer of her own, putting USF up 48-40 at 13:17.
The Wildcats put their best run at the lead together over the next four minutes and got within two at 51-49, the closest they had been since the opening minutes. USF then went on a 9-0 run answering the IWU surge, to hold a 60-49 advantage with 6:41 on the clock.
“I don’t think this win had anything to do with beating the No. 1 team in the country or the fact it was a conference game. The fact it was [Indiana] Wesleyan was the important part,” senior guard Cassie Reeder said. “We know we can do it now and we have been needing that for a long time. We know what we are capable of and that is huge for us.”
“We really feel we can win the conference and now we have our destiny in our own hands,” Coach Andrews said.
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