Peru State WBB picks up fifth win of season

Staff Writer
Syracuse Journal-Democrat
Claire Cudney goes past several Mustang defenders for two of  her 13 points.

After trailing by six at halftime, a big second half propelled the Peru State women to their fifth win of the season Saturday afternoon.

The Bobcats outscored the visiting Mount Mercy (Iowa) Mustangs 37-23 in route to a 75-67 victory in front of a basketball alumni reunion crowd.

With the win, Peru State improved to 5-7 overall which puts them one win ahead of their entire 18-19 season. In the Heart of America Athletic Conference (Heart), the 'Cats improved to 3-5 overall which matches their win total in conference play from one year ago.

Mount Mercy fell to 4-9 on the season and 4-7 in conference play.

First Quarter Action

Peru State got on board first with a pair of free throws by Maddy McPhillips (Omaha) at the 8:46 mark. Later, Claire Cudney (Marysville, Kan.) added a bucket in the paint off an assist from Reagan Kirkwood (Valley Center, Kan.). After the Mustangs scored their first bucket, Nytasia Braxton (Camden, N.J.) hit a bucket off another assist from Kirkwood.

Mount Mercy would then go on a 9-0 run to lead 11-6 before McPhillips hit a bucket in the paint on an assist from Giovanna Silva (Brazilia, Brazil) at the 2:55 mark.

With 1:27 to go, a trey by McPhillips off an assist from Allison Tichy (Bellevue) would put the Bobcats back on top at 14-13. Peru State would eventually lead 19-18 at the end of the first quarter.

Second Quarter Action

The game would go back and forth in the early part of the second ten minutes with the teams being tied at 25, 29, and 31. After the tie at 31 each, Mount Mercy again went on another 9-0 run to lead 40-31 with 2:32 to go in the first half.

A bucket by Dayna Dewitt (Mansfield, Texas) stopped the run. Later, with 11 seconds left in the quarter, a bucket by Cudney on an assist from McPhillips made the score 42-38, but Mount Mercy scored at the buzzer to lead 44-38 at halftime.

Third Quarter Action

The Bobcats started the second half with a 7-0 run of their own which started with Silva grabbing an offensive rebound and putting it back in for a bucket. Cudney would later follow with a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to two. Cudney would then make one of two charity tosses and Peru State was back within one.

A bucket by Alyssa Marsh-Contreras (Omaha) would put the Bobcats on top at 45-44 with 5:51 to go in the quarter. Mount Mercy would finish the quarter on a 7-3 run and still led 51-48 after 30 minutes of play.

Fourth Quarter Action

The Mustangs scored on their opening possession to extend the lead to five before McPhillips hit a pair of free throws to make it 53-50 at the 9:18 mark. A trey by Braxton, off an assist from Kirkwood, knotted the score at 53 each.

The game was later tied at 55 and 59 before the Bobcats went on a 13-0 run to pull away from the Mustangs. Kirkwood started the run with a pair of free throws. Later, Cudney hit a pair of free throws to give Peru State its first double-digit lead at 69-59 with 2:13 left in the game. A trey by Tichy gave the 'Cats their largest lead at 72-59.

Mount Mercy would try to come back, but the 'Cats held on for the eight-point win.

Team Statistics

Peru State was actually outshot in all categories, but won the game at the free throw line. The Bobcats made 24 of 66 field goals for 36.4% including hitting 7 of 24 from long range for 29.2%. At the free throw line, the 'Cats connected on 20 of 29 for 69%. Mount Mercy made 27 of 60 field goals for 45% and hit 5 of 13 from behind the arc for 38.5%. At the charity stripe, the Mustangs were 8 of 10 for 80%.

The rebounding was nearly even with the Mustangs grabbing one more rebound than Peru State as they finished with 36. The Bobcats dished out 17 assists compared to 14 for Mount Mercy.

The second-biggest difference in the game was that the Bobcats took care of the ball and only had nine turnovers – a season low. Mount Mercy finished with game with 21 turnovers.

Peru State blocked three shots while the Mustangs finished with one. The Bobcats nabbed ten steals compared to four for Mount Mercy.

Peru Individual Statistics

Three Bobcats finished in double figures as McPhillips led the way with 16 points – the most she has scored in over two years. Cudney added 13 points with seven of those coming from the charity stripe. Braxton added ten points. Three other Bobcats finished with eight points – Silva, Kirkwood, and Tichy.

Silva led the team with eight rebounds while Cudney finished with seven. Braxton and McPhillips each added five boards.

McPhillips, Kirkwood, and Marsh-Contreras each dished out three assists while Cudney, Braxton, and Tichy each had two dimes.

Olivia Bell (Auckland, New Zealand) led the team with two blocks while Silva was credited with one.

Cudney led the team with four steals while Braxton nabbed three. McPhillips contributed two steals.

Upcoming Contests

Peru State will be on the road for their next two contests. On Wednesday, the 'Cats will be in Des Moines to face Grand View at 5:30 p.m. The Vikings topped Evangel 64-49 on the road on Saturday. Grand View is 11-3 overall and are 7-1 in the Heart – tying them with Central Methodist (Mo.) for the top league mark.

Next Saturday, Jan. 11, the Bobcats will take one of their long trips as they head to Oskaloosa, Iowa, to face William Penn at 2 p.m. The Statesmen hammered Baker (Kan.) on Saturday 89-53. William Penn improved to 10-3 on the year and are 6-2 in the Heart.

The Bobcats will then be back home on Wednesday, January 15, when they host Benedictine at 5:30 p.m. The Ravens will be the third-straight opponent who are on a roll as they are 12-2 overall and are 6-2 in conference play.