It wasn’t easy, but Kentucky Wesleyan outscored Walsh 37-20 in the second half to win 66-56 on Thursday night. This win was a milestone for Head Coaches Caleb & Nicole Nieman, as they have now reached 250 wins all time, with all their victories coming at Kentucky Wesleyan.
Wesleyan, winners of eight straight, now sit at 15-4 (11-1 G-MAC), while Walsh falls to 8-11 (6-6 G-MAC).
The teams went back-and-forth right out of the gate, with Myah Montgomery evening the score up at eight midway through the opening quarter. The Cavaliers then went on a 9-0 run over the next four minutes and quickly extented their lead to 17-8. The Panthers closed the quarter strong, cutting the lead back down to five thanks to layups by Shiya Hoosier and Tahlia Walton.
Kentucky Wesleyan looked to come back, cutting the lead to two on a Tahlia Walton layup two and a half minutes into the frame. Walsh wan’t having any of it, however, as they used three straight baskets from Morgan McMillen to extend the lead back to nine, 30-21. A Corina Conley three made it a 33-29 Walsh lead with a minute left, but another McMillen three near the end of the half made it a 36-29 Cavalier advantage heading into the locker rooms.
Down 40-29 early in the second half, the Panthers knew they needed a spark. Reeva Hammelman was there to provide, as she hit two straight layups to fuel a 9-0 Wesleyan run to make it just a two-point game. Walton put in a layup with 4:07 remaining to give Wesleyan the 45-44 lead, a lead they would never give up.
Mariah Edmonds opened up the final quarter with a fast break layup, and free throws from Jordyn Barga, and layups from Hoosier and Walton gave Wesleyan a 56-45 lead with just under five minutes to go in the game. Walsh would only get as close as seven the rest of the way, as Conley hit multiple free throws in the final two minutes to seal the big win.
Wesleyan shot 25-57 (43.9%) from the field and 3-14 (21.4%) from three. Walsh shot 20-51 (39.2%) from the field and 9-26 (34.6%) from behind the arc. After shooting 55% in the opening half, the Kentucky Wesleyan defense held the Cavaliers to a mere seven field goals made and 25.5% shooting in the second half.
While Wesleyan’s defense struggled on Walsh’s Morgan McMillen, who scored 37 points on 14-22 shooting, it was dominant on the rest of the team, holding her teammates to just 6-29 from the floor.
Corina Conley and Tahlia Walton each tallied 14 points for the Panthers, while Reeva Hammelman added 10. Jordyn Barga continued her dominant season on the boards, hauling in seven on the night, while Shaylee McDonald added four assists. Shiya Hoosier continued her strong defense season with three steals.
The Panthers will look for their ninth straight win on Saturday when they take on the Lake Erie Storm in Painesville, Ohio. LEC will be ready to play, as they are coming off a decisive 67-64 win over Trevecca Nazarene. Tipoff is set for 12 p.m. CT.