Despite a closely fought second half, Bluffton University's women's basketball team capitalized on 25 turnovers and a 26-point second period to defeat The College of Wooster, 85-64, inside the Sommer Center at Bluffton, Ohio on Tuesday evening.
Wooster junior Aki Shurelds and Bluffton's Kaycee Rowe led all scorers with 20 points each. Shurelds tallied her second 20-point game of the season with another impressive shooting night, going 6-for-8 from the field, including 4-for-5 from beyond the arc.
Notable, Shurelds, who tied the single-game program record with seven 3-pointers against non-conference foe Case Western Reserve University on Dec. 3, is shooting over 37 percent from three-point range in non-North Coast Athletic Conference games.
The Fighting Scots (1-9, 0-3 NCAC) found themselves down early as Bluffton came out to a quick 10-1 advantage before closing the first period leading 24-13.
Defensive pressure and crashing the boards proved key for the Beavers (7-1, 2-1 Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference), as they held Wooster to 4-for-10 shooting in the first period while grabbing 17 rebounds of their own – nine of them offensive.
The Scots, meanwhile, grabbed just six rebounds as Bluffton went 10-for-24 in the opening stanza.
Turnovers were the Achilles' heel for the Scots, who committed 11 in the second period and 25 overall. As a result, Wooster put up only seven shots in the second period, converting on two, while Bluffton went 9-for-15 to outscore the Scots 26-9 and take a 50-22 lead at the break.
In the third, Wooster out-rebounded Bluffton 13-12 behind five from first-year Cat Fiorito and three from sophomore Christina Vukovich, who pulled down a team-high eight on the day, but the Scots fell into foul trouble, as Bluffton went to the line 16 times in the period to help maintain a 69-38 lead going into the fourth.
Shurelds posted 12 of her game-best 20 points in the final period, going 3-for-4 with two 3-pointers to go along with a perfect 4-for-4 performance from the foul line.
The Scots outscored Bluffton 26-16 in the final period, but it proved too little, too late as the Beavers took the home decision 85-64.
Fiorito and Bluffton's Breanna Graham each dished a game-high four assists, while Vukovich, who came into the game averaging just over two blocks per game, held down the paint for Wooster with a game-best four blocks.
The Scots conclude the calendar year at the Baldwin Wallace Invitational, which takes place Dec.29-30. Wooster plays Baldwin Wallace University (8-0, 4-0 Ohio Athletic Conference) on Thursday, Dec. 29 at 4 p.m. before taking on either La Roche College (6-3, 4-0 Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference) or Loras College (5-5, 0-3 Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) on Friday, Dec. 30.