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Foresters blow out Cornerstone

by Eric Andrews - eandrews@h-ponline.com

The RV Huntington University women’s basketball team earned their first victory of the 2018–19 season on Friday afternoon by defeating Cornerstone 72–42 in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

With the win, the Foresters improved their season record to 1–1 after opening the season with an 81–61 loss to No. 9 Indiana Tech on Oct. 30 in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

Junior forward Sarah Fryman opened the scoring, burying a jumper just 11 seconds into the game, giving Huntington a lead they would not give up the rest of the game.

The Forester offense played with confidence all game long thanks to a strong start with quick and crisp ball movement. Huntington’s offensive execution was particularly on display on a play resulting in a three-pointer from senior guard Maddie Richer, putting the Foresters up 9–5 with 6:26 remaining in the first quarter.

Huntington’s defense also performed well throughout the contest, giving Cornerstone problems all game long due to a high-pressure defensive scheme by the Foresters. Huntington caused six turnovers in the opening frame, leading to the Foresters holding an 18–11 advantage on the scoreboard after the opening 10 minutes.

The Foresters continued where they left off in the second quarter, generating offense while limiting Cornerstone’s opportunities. Huntington rebounded particularly well offensively in the second frame, hauling in six offensive boards in the quarter.

At halftime, the Foresters owned a 32–20 lead over the Golden Eagles.

After a low-scoring second quarter, both offenses woke up in the third frame, with Huntington ultimately winning the quarter, 21–18 to grab a 53–38 advantage. Richer drained another three-pointer with 7:46 left in the quarter to highlight the scoring in the period. Richer’s basket gave the Foresters a 37–24 lead.

Although holding a sizeable lead entering the final quarter, the Foresters were clearly not content with coasting down the homestretch. Huntington’s offense erupted for an enormous 14–0 run to start the fourth quarter, highlighted by a three-pointer from freshman guard Erica Zook following a series of flawless passes by the Forester offense.

Huntington would go on to outscore Cornerstone 19–4 in the game’s final quarter to claim the 72–42 final decision.

“I was very pleased with our defensive effort today,” said head coach Lori Culler. “We, I thought, came out with a lot more intensity right from the start. We tried to force that a little bit by picking up full court and then we pressed quite a bit during the game, so I felt like that really helped keep our intensity level up where we need it to be.”

In what was a fairly dominant victory, Huntington won nearly every statistical category, both defensively and offensively.

The Foresters exceptional defense was highlighted by forcing 26 turnovers, grabbing 18 steals and scoring 18 points off turnovers.

“I really thought that the press rattled them a lot,” Culler said. “We had a lot of tipped balls and things and people just hustling. (We) came up with quite a few steals. Eighteen steals is a really good number for us. We would be hopeful of averaging around 10 to 12, so if we are going to press and we can come up with that kind of number, that’s going to be a very positive thing for us. I was just real impressed with the whole team and how they responded when they did get the ball across half court how quickly we matched up and then didn’t give up easy looks, which is easy to do sometimes when you’re pressing.”

Sophomore guard Sam Hammel paced the Huntington offense, scoring 18 points and adding a trio of assists. Hammel also led the Forester defense, snagging a game-high five steals.

Richer buried 12 points while also adding a trio of assists. Fryman rounded out the trio of Foresters with double-digit point totals with 11.

Senior forward Brooke Saylor grabbed eight rebounds, including a trio of offensive boards, both of which were game-high totals.

In total, 13 Foresters saw playing time, with all but three burying at least one shot. Huntington’s bench outscored the Cornerstone reserves, 24–16.

The Foresters played Aquinas on Nov. 3, but results were not available as of The Herald-Press’s deadline.

Huntington will return to the court on Nov. 6 when they host Holy Cross in Platt Arena at 7 p.m. in the Foresters’ home opener.