by Drury Athletics
The goal of an undefeated regular season by the Drury Lady Panthers was realized on Saturday afternoon as the number one ranked team in the nation wrapped up an unblemished regular campaign with a 91-34 win against William Jewell at the O’Reilly Family Event Center. The win moved Drury to a perfect 28-0 overall as they also ran-the-table in the Great Lakes Valley Conference, capturing the league crown with an 18-0 finish.
The 57 points is Drury’s largest margin of victory for the season and the 34 points allowed is also a season’s best effort against opponents.
“I think, for this team, it’s always been to make it hard on the defensive end and I think they took that to a different level today,” said Drury head coach Molly Miller. “They worked as hard for game 28 as they did for game one or game 17.”
In what has become a pattern during their undefeated season, the Lady Panthers broke fast and early, racing to a 25-11 lead after the opening period, forcing the Cardinals into nine first-quarter turnovers and hitting nine of twelve shots from the field in the first ten minutes of action.
The pressure continued in the second quarter as Drury limited William Jewell to just seven points in the period and pulled away to a comfortable 45-18 lead at the break.
The Lady Panthers’ smothering defense in the third quarter held William Jewell to only eight points, and Drury’s overwhelming lead had ballooned to 67-26 headed to the final period of play.
The undefeated regular season is a first ever for Drury, and the 28 consecutive wins are just two wins shy of a program-best 30 straight wins posted by the 2003-04 team that finished as national runner-up.
“To go undefeated is hard to do and we just want to enjoy the moment,” said Miller. “I don’t care what level you’re playing at, this was hard, and these ladies have etched their names into the history books.”
Freshman Paige Robinson led Drury in scoring with 17 points, while junior Hailey Diestelkamp added 16 and became Drury’s second all-time rebounder, pulling down seven boards to stand at 799 for her career and now just 13 behind Melanie Oliver who posted 812 rebounds from 2007-2010. Drury outrebounded the Cardinals 36-19 and for the game shot 55 percent from the field, making 31 of 56 shots.
Sophomore Payton Richards added 13 points for Drury, while Lucia Fernandez, the lone senior on the team, celebrated her final regular season home game with eight points.
Kiara Bradley was the only William Jewell (14-12, 8-10) to score in double figures, finishing with 10.
The Lady Panthers will next be in action in the Great Lakes Valley Conference tournament starting March 8th at Edwardsville, Illinois where they’ll enter as the tournament’s number one seed.