After shaking off a slow start, the Kentucky Wesleyan College women’s basketball team capitalized on a strong shooting display for a dominant 89-49 win over Ohio Dominican on Tuesday in the first round of the G-MAC tournament.
The No. 2 seed Panthers (23-6) finished the game with 16 made 3-pointers, compared to just eight triples for No. 7 seed ODU (15-14). Wesleyan advances to Friday’s semifinal against No. 3 seed Cedarville. Both the semifinals and the championship will be played at No. 1 seed Walsh.
The historic season continues for the Panthers, who extended the program’s longest home game win streak to 16 and reached 23 wins in a season for the first time in program history.
Though the Panthers ended the game with a 40-point route, the game was tightly contested for the first quarter. After a bit of back-and-forth play, Keelie Lamb asserted 6 quick points in the final 10 seconds of the opening frame to knot the game at 15.
First, Lamb finished a tough drive through contact for an and-1 lay-in. She then connected on a 3-pointer as time expired in the quarter.
Co-head coach Caleb Nieman was never worried about the sputtering start.
“The score might have been close early, but the pace was perfect,” Nieman said. “We felt like if the pace continued at that same rate throughout the game we would have a good chance to take a big lead. That is exactly what happened.”
Nieman said the team’s return to the style of defense that made the Panthers a tough opponent earlier in the season was also key.
“It was good to have the girls back from a defensive perspective,” Nieman said. “We haven’t played that type of defense since early January. The girls really stepped up for a great team win, top to bottom.”
Wesleyan easily outpaced ODU over the final three periods, stretching a 10-point halftime lead to a 32-point advantage after three quarters.
Shayla Wright connected on four 3-pointers to finish with 12 points in her final home appearance for the Panthers. Nieman said Wright has provided great leadership for the program on a regular basis.
“Shayla is one of those people you can always count on to have a smile on her face,” Nieman said. “When you’re living with each other for months on end, it’s pretty important to have a positive teammate that you can always count on and that is exactly what she has been for us. The kids love playing with her and continue to fight to get her some extra games moving forward.”
Lamb led the Panthers and Emma Johnson each scored 16 points for the Panthers, while Kaylee Clifford (13), Jenna Martin (12), Wright (12) and Emma Wolfe all finished in double digits.
ODU: Angela Troyer 19, Alexis Overly 11, Alexa Fisher 6, Kennedy Schlabach 6, Olivia Fox 3, Taylor Harazin 2, Hannah Clark 2
KWC: Keelie Lamb 16, Emma Johnson 16, Kaylee Clifford 13, Jenna Martin 12, Shayla Wright 12, Emma Wolfe 11, Kaylee Duncan 5, Lily Grimes 4