Earlham College led by 14 points early in the third quarter, but the Anderson University women's basketball team completed the comeback effort to score a 56-51 victory against Earlham during Saturday's Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference (HCAC) matchup in O.C. Lewis Gymnasium.
Both teams were within a single possession for the entire first quarter as Anderson (8-11, 4-8) held a 15-14 lead through the first quarter. Earlham (5-14, 4-8) began the second quarter on a 9-0 run. The Quakers turned in 23 points in the second quarter as they entered halftime with a 37-25 lead.
"Unfortunately, the first half of [Saturday's] game was reflective of our effort in practice [on Friday]," Coach Lindsay Shade said. "After several games of being locked in and focused defensively, we did not have it for the first 20 minutes and Earlham got whatever they wanted offensively. We allowed their defensive pressure to rattle us and it impacted both ends of the floor."
The Quakers took a 39-25 lead with 8 minutes, 42 seconds left in the third quarter to put Earlham up by 14. Earlham also held a 41-27 advantage with 7:06 remaining in the quarter. The Ravens scored the next six points to trim the deficit to eight. Earlham exited the third quarter with a 45-38 lead.
The Quakers scored first in the fourth quarter to go ahead by nine. Lexi Dellinger hit a pair of free throws and Jade Shipley drained a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to four. Rosie Newhart provided a layup for the Quakers with 4:46 remaining. Trailing by six, Anderson closed out the remainder of the game on a 13-2 run. In the fourth quarter alone, Dellinger poured in 13 points and went a perfect 10-for-10 from the free-throw line. Shipley tallied Anderson's remaining five points for the quarter.
Hannah Hawkins totaled nine blocks on the day, blasting the previous single-game school record of six.
"This team has challenged me more than any other team I have ever coached. At halftime, I tried pushing one more button, and to their credit they responded. It has to be one of the best defensive halves we have ever played. Hannah was sensational as the back line of our defense. She is so tough, willing to do whatever we ask of her, and I am thrilled she was able to set the record for blocks in a game."
For the game, Dellinger provided 21 points. The 5-foot-5 sophomore guard from Berne drained 11-of-12 (91.7 percent) shots from the free-throw line.
"They were all over Lexi defensively. In the first half, I felt like she got rattled and backed down. In the second half she played with so much toughness and she was sensational. She made so many big plays down the stretch."
Hawkins, Shipley and Payton Moore each notched 10 points. Hanna Ault tallied two points and eight rebounds. Rylee Morris scored two points while Kristin Dubois rounded out the Anderson scoring effort with one point.
Trinity McClendon paced the Quakers with 12 points and four rebounds. Amy Weisner put together 11 points. Camryn White came up with three steals and Kayla Bowling pulled down five rebounds.
Anderson converted 16-of-37 (43.2 percent) shots from the field and 4-of-11 (36.4 percent) attempts from 3-point range. Earlham was held to a 32.8-percent (20-of-61) shooting clip from the floor and 21.1-percent (4-of-19) shooting percentage from 3-point range.
The Ravens drained 20-of-24 (83.3 percent) shots from the free-throw line while the Quakers drained 7-of-8 (87.5 percent) attempts from the charity stripe.
Anderson outrebounded Earlham 35-28, which includes a 26-13 advantage on defensive rebounds. The Ravens also outscored the Quakers 13-8 on second-chance points.
Anderson turned the ball over 20 times while Earlham committed 10 turnovers. Despite finishing plus-10 on turnovers, the Quakers only came out two points ahead off turnovers, outscoring the Ravens 13-11.
Anderson is currently tied for seventh in the HCAC standings. The fourth through ninth positions are bunched up and within one game of each other. Anderson is making a run to crack the HCAC Tournament, which is awarded to the top six teams in the conference.
"We needed to win to keep our postseason hopes alive and, with our backs against the wall, we found a way to win."
The Ravens are scheduled for two HCAC matchups next week. Anderson battles Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology (4-15, 3-9) on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Terre Haute. The Ravens then go head-to-head with Bluffton University (10-9, 4-8) on Saturday at 2 p.m. in O.C. Lewis Gymnasium.