By Adam Samson/Sports Information Director
ATCHISON, Kan. – For the second time in three outings, the Stephens College basketball team was engaged in a down-to-the-wire matchup with a Heart of America Athletic Conference (HAAC) opponent. This time around, the Stars reversed their fortune in the late-game situation by holding off Avila University (1-2) Saturday at the Benedictine College-AmericInn Classic, 65-61.
Stephens (1-2) picked up win No. 1 of the season, its first non-conference victory since Dec. 15, 2012 when it defeated University of St. Mary at a tournament in Wisconsin.
The Stars were on fire to begin the game jumping out to a commanding 7-0 lead in the first two minutes. Bailey Taylor, who opened the scoring, pushed the margin to 10-2 with a 3-pointer on a pass from Sadie Dugger. Unfortunately, Avila snapped out of its daze and shut down the Stars for the next four minutes. During that stretch the Eagles evened the ballgame at 12-all and once again at 14-14 before the end of the quarter.
Scoring was balanced for the two teams in the second stanza, however, one particular individual stepped up offensively to keep the game close. After being held without a point in the opening quarter, sophomore transfer Sierra Pryor notched nine points including a timely three before the end of the half.
Trailing by one at the break [32-31], the Stars were shooting an efficient 46.4 percent from the field with seven different players registering a bucket.
Early in the third, Stephens took advantage of some AU miscues and missed field goals. During the six and 1Ž2 minute stretch, the Stars went on a 15-4 run. Pryor and Bailey Taylor were active again in the third period, but a different set of Stars contributed in pushing forward. Heggemann had a key three-pointer, while Sadie Dugger tallied a pair of baskets along with five points from Katie Heaton.
The Eagles slowly chipped away at what was a nine-point margin for Stephens heading into the final quarter. Clinging to a four-point lead with five minutes remaining, the Stars built enough of a cushion to fend off a rallying Avila squad. Despite hitting just one field goal in the last five minutes, the Stars got to the free-throw line and hit their shots when it mattered most.
Guard Angelica Medrano sank a pair of late free throws to put the game away and secure a 65-61 win.
SC was near perfect from the charity stripe on Saturday, hitting on 11-of-12 free throws. After shooting 50 percent in the second half, the Stars finished the day with .480 clipping. Another statistic that jumped out was the Stars’ 13 steals.
Leading the Stars offensively in the victory were Sierra Pryor with 15 points, four rebounds and four assists, Bailey Taylor with 12 points, four rebounds and four assists and Angelica Medrano with nine points.
Stephens has a busy week ahead with games on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. The Stars are on the road at nearby Central Christian College of the Bible and Central Methodist University before hosting Kansas Wesleyan University in a week.
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