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Saints prevail, top Warriors after slow start

waldorf-warriors-outline_1By Aaron Schneider

CLINTON – Ashford University overcame a slow start to prevail in a 54-45 win over the Waldorf College women’s basketball team on Saturday.
The Warriors (1-20) started strong, claiming a 16-8 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“We had a great start during the first quarter of the game,” Waldorf coach Katie Schutjer said.
The Saints (7-17) found their rhythm and erased the deficit as they entered halftime with a 29-28 lead.
“We pressed a little on offense in the second quarter and had some bad turnovers and that spilled into the third quarter,” Schutjer said.
The Warriors struggled in the third quarter as Ashford held Waldorf to just five points. Capitalizing on second-chance opportunities, the Saints owned a 14-4 advantage on the offensive boards. They owned a 45-33 lead after three quarters.
“We also did not do a good job on the boards and let them have too many second and third chances, especially in the third quarter,” Schutjer said.
Sophomore Jessica Denholm and freshman Meriel Leavy scored 11 points each to lead Waldorf. Denholm played a key role defensively by adding five steals. Leavy shot 4-of-6 (66.7 percent) from the field, knocking down both of her 3-point attempts.
“Meriel played a good perimeter game, had some nice moves to the basket and shot well from outside,” Schutjer said.
Freshman Samantha Birkes notched nine points for the Warriors. Freshmen Kassidy Bunger and Ameh Ogbemudia tallied six points apiece while junior Jenna Quina rounded out the scoring effort with two points.
Waldorf was without freshman Taylor Fricke, who was sidelined with an injury.
“Being without Taylor [Fricke] hurt our rotation at the forward position,” Schutjer said.
Brittany Cross led the Saints with a game-high 19 points. Cross hit 7-of-15 (46.7 percent) shots from the floor. Ashley Drain added 14 points while Phikala Anthony contributed 12 points and three steals.
The Saints won the battle on the boards, out-rebounding the Warriors by a 33-23 margin. Desiree Irizarry led Ashford’s rebounding effort, pulling down a game-high 10 boards.
Ashford sank 18-of-46 (39.1 percent) shots from the floor while Waldorf made 16-of-40 (40 percent) attempts from the field. The Warriors held the advantage from the perimeter. They sank 7-of-17 (41.2 percent) shots from downtown and the Saints turned in a 3-of-18 (16.7-percent) finish behind the arc.
Ashford found the free-throw line 24 times and made 15 (62.5 percent) of its attempts. Waldorf posted a 6-of-10 (60-percent) shooting effort from the charity stripe.
The Saints attacked the post and outscored the Warriors 22-10 in the paint.
Waldorf held a 22-18 advantage in points off turnovers despite finishing with one more turnover than Ashford. The Warriors turned the ball over 18 times and the Saints committed 17 turnovers.
The Warriors return to action on Tuesday, taking on Governors State University (0-24) at 5 p.m. at University Park, Illinois.