Updated: Friday, 22 Feb 2013, 11:49 PM EST
Published : Friday, 22 Feb 2013, 11:49 PM EST
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. -- University of Saint Francis senior Kayla Drake sent a message with her first shot.
Drake nailed a 3-pointer from the corner for a 3-0 Lady Cougars lead and after about five minutes, any drama left disappeared like the fog earlier on Friday in USF's 71-44 win over Bethel College on Friday night in a Crossroads League Tournament semifinal game at Hutzell Athletic Center. There would be no 52-49 USF heart-stopping win this time as there was in the last meeting between the two NAIA Top 25 teams.
Now 29-3, the fourth-ranked (NAIA Top 25) Lady Cougars will play at top-ranked Indiana Wesleyan University in the CL Tournament Championship Game on Monday at 7 p.m.
The 13th-ranked Pilots (25-7) got as close as 4-3 on a Kristen Hicks 3-pointer with 16:20 to play in the first half. After Brooke Ridley hit back-to-back shots for an 8-3 USF lead, Baysia Cox and Katy Stuppy answered back cutting the USF lead to 8-7 with 14:29 to play. The Lady Cougars ran off 13 unanswered points for a 21-7 lead, Jenelle Wilson capping the run with a 3-pointer at 8:48.
USF opened up a 17-point, 29-12 lead, before settling for a 33-20 halftime advantage.
BC got as close as 37-26 with 16:28 to play on a Laura Johnson 3-pointer, but answered with a 12-2 charge that left no doubt about which team would advance. USF opened up a 29-point lead late crusing to its fifth consecutive win and 14th in the last 15 games.
Drake led the Lady Cougars' offensive with 18 points while Meghan Slusher and Kalah Baer produced double double-doubles. Slusher scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Baer scored 12 points and hauled in 11 rebounds coming in off the bench. Brooke Ridley scored 11 points and blocked seven shots, five in the first four minutes of the game. Skylarr Shurn shook off the rust from sitting out the Marian game (concussion) and scored 10 points.
"I was extremely pleased with our defense," USF Head Coach Gary Andrews said. "Brooke set the tone and after she rejected those shots early, I think it affected the way (BC) shot the ball around the basket."
The Pilots came into the game shooting .380, but they only managed .225 on 16-for-71 shooting. BC shot .182 from 3-point range connecting on 6-of-33 shots. BC entered the game averaging 8.7 made 3-pointers per game, No. 6 in NAIA.
Johnson, the CL Player of the Year, finished with 12 points and Cox posted a double-double with 11 points and 14 rebounds.
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