FORT WAYNE – Long before the jump ball went up in the middle of Hutzell Center’s painted cougar, Saint Francis women’s basketball coach Gary Andrews had warned his team of the perils of the past.
Never mind that Saint Francis had pasted Marian by 26 points in January, then by 21 a day before Valentine’s Day.
History repeats only until it’s repeated.
And boy, was it repeated.
No. 4 Saint Francis opened the Crossroads League tournament with a bang, crushing Marian for the third time, 84-58.
Junior guard Jenelle Wilson had 20 points, Meghan Slusher had 15 and three others got into double figures to lead the rout for Saint Francis (28-3), which advances into Friday’s home semifinal against Bethel.
To make the lopsided win even more impressive was that Saint Francis was without guard Skylarr Shurn, the team’s second-leading scorer with a 14.1 average.
Playing without Skylarr, our second-leading scorer and probably our best player, a lot of girls stepped up, Andrews said.
They played a really, really great game. To be up 50-22 at half, I never would have dreamed that. We put on a clinic in the first half. We only had one turnover, played good defense. I’m really proud of my kids.
Andrews said he warned the Cougars not to be overconfident from the earlier games with the Knights (17-13).
We knew Marian was dangerous, Andrews said. At one time they were 20th in the country. They just got beat up when they got in the conference. They beat some really good teams, so they knew we had to be ready.
From the opening tip to Bri Rinehart’s three-pointer with 3.5 seconds still to go, Saint Francis owned the first half, evidenced by the 28-point halftime lead. And it didn’t take long for Saint Francis to pull away.
Wilson’s three-pointer with 10:22 left in the first half sent Saint Francis ahead by 10, 21-11. Seven minutes later, on Brooke Ridley’s underhanded scoop, the margin went to 20, 39-19.
With Marian concentrating on getting the ball out of the hands of point guard Kayla Drake, who torched the Knights for 34 points the last time out, Wilson said the game plan was to count on everyone else.
We tried to rotate the ball as much as possible – drive, kick – do what we normally do, Wilson said.
In other words, have history repeat itself.