by Ed Beach
Less than forty-eight hours after posting a 51-point win, the number one ranked Drury Lady Panthers were back at it Saturday afternoon, winning by 60 in a 114-54 decision over Illinois-Springfield at the O’Reilly Family Event Center, giving them their third 100-plus point performance in their last four outings.
And while their offensive production was outstanding, it was, once again, the defense that determined the outcome. The Lady Panthers had 29 steals and forced Illinois-Springfield into 43 turnovers to set the stage for the runaway victory. The 43 turnovers set a Drury record for turnovers forced in a game. The Lady Panthers had reached 40 three previous times including twice last year
“I think what makes me most pleased with this group is that they’re always hungry for more on the defensive end,” said Drury head coach Molly Miller. “They put a lot of stock into that side of the ball.”
Drury, now 23-0 on the season and 14-0 in Great Lakes Valley Conference play, quickly turned the contest into a runaway as they exploded from an early 5-4 tie to outscore the Prairie Stars 25-3 to close the first quarter, leading 30-8 after the period.
The Lady Panthers grabbed eighteen steals in the half and forced the Prairie Stars into twenty-six turnovers, en route to a 53-22 lead at the intermission.
“I never worry about their effort, and that’s absolutely what’s getting us forced turnovers and steals,” added Miller. “I’m never worried about them playing hard.”
Senior Hailey Diestelkamp triggered the offensive explosion with a team-high 29 points, as the Lady Panthers placed five players in double figures.
Sophomore Paige Robinson had 15, junior Azia Lynch added 14 with junior Kelsey Winfrey and freshman Alana Findley chipping in 10 apiece.
The Prairie Stars (7-15, 2-12) were paced in scoring by Lauren Ladowski, who finished with nine points.
Drury was 39 of 74 from the field for 53 percent shooting and was good on 25 of 32 free throw attempts in a game that included fifty-three personal fouls.
Illinois-Springfield finished at 37 percent shooting on 19 of 52 shots but did edge Drury 39-37 in total rebounds.
(headline photo by Terry Griffin provided by Drury)