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No. 12 Women's Basketball Prevails in OAC Nail-Biter Against Crosstown Rival No. 21 John Carroll

Senior guard Riley Schill (photo courtesy of Brittany Webb)
Senior guard Riley Schill (photo courtesy of Brittany Webb)

BEREA, Ohio – The No. 12 nationally-ranked Baldwin Wallace University women's basketball team earned a gritty 80-77 Ohio Athletic Conference victory over crosstown rival and No. 21 nationally-ranked John Carroll University in Ursprung Gymnasium.

In a battle of the OAC's best squads, BW (20-2, 14-1 OAC) avenged its lone blemish on its otherwise perfect OAC slate this season. The Yellow Jackets improved to 57-26 in its all-time matchups against John Carroll (19-3, 13-2 OAC), and attained its third separate six-game win streak this season. With its victory over the Blue Streaks, BW is now isolated atop the OAC standings and remains perfect at home with an 11-0 record. The Yellow Jackets also secured their first victory over a nationally-ranked opponent this season.

BW's offense was led by three scorers in double-figures. Senior All-OAC and Academic All-OAC guard Riley Schill (Sheffield Village/Elyria Catholic) attained team-highs of 14 points and five assists, and added one steal. Senior Academic All-OAC guard/forward Kara Marshall (Copley/Akron Archbishop Hoban) contributed with a team-high 14 points, as well as three rebounds, three assists, and one steal. Senior All-OAC and Academic All-OAC guard Kasey Hughes (Springboro) also accumulated 12 points and three steals in the victory.

The John Carroll attack was spearheaded by sophomore center Olivia Nagy and junior guard/forward Nicole Heffington. Nagy, the OAC's reigning Player of the Week and third-leading scorer, garnered game-highs of 22 points, seven rebounds, and three blocks. Meanwhile, Heffington scored 21 points, dished out a game-high seven assists, and added five rebounds in the defeat.

BW began the game with an efficient start, scoring on its first three offensive possessions. Marshall led off by scoring the Yellow Jackets first two baskets, then found an open Hughes for a three-pointer. BW had used an 8-0 run in just a 48-second span in the latter portion of the first quarter to propel an early lead. The first frame was also capped off by a Hannah Fecht (Hilliard/Davidson) steal, the Yellow Jackets' seventh of the period, and a subsequent breakaway layup by Fecht in the period's closing seconds.

The second quarter featured a strong shooting performance by John Carroll, who had knocked down 66.7 percent of their field goal attempts in the frame. In a period that showcased a consistent exchange of buckets, the Blue Streaks were able to use their hot shooting to cut BW's lead to five headed to halftime.

After John Carroll's Nagy scored six straight points on three consecutive possessions roughly midway through the third quarter, the Blue Streaks claimed their first lead of the game since the 3:45 mark of the first period. However, their lead was short lived as the Yellow Jackets generated a 10-1 run immediately thereafter. John Carroll turned to Nagy and Heffington to keep the game within striking distance, as the duo combined to score 15 of their team's 21 points in the frame.

The game came down to the wire as both teams competed in a back-and-forth battle until the final buzzer. With the score nodded up at 70-70 at the 3:51 mark, Schill was able to score four crucial points on two equally impressive layups late in the game. Relentlessly pursuing the equalizer, the Blue Streaks began intentionally fouling BW's players. John Carroll held up their end of the strategy by scoring on three straight possessions including a three-point bank shot. However, the Yellow Jackets were perfect from the line in the final 25 seconds, going 6-6 from the stripe. With a three-point lead and one last chance for the Blue Streaks to tie the game, Gabby Garrett (Columbus/Bishop Watterson) came up with the steal and sealed the nail-biting victory for BW.

The Yellow Jackets return to the court on Saturday, February 15 when they travel to Bexley for an OAC matchup against Capital University in the Capital Center.