NAIA
NAIA
Women's Basketball - Wed, Dec. 29, 2010
News Photo
87
VS
81
Union
Holy Cross

BARBOURVILLE, Ky. - No. 24 Union never trailed in the second half, but the Lady Bulldogs had a fight on their hands as they held off visiting Holy Cross (Ind.) 87-81 in the Lady Bulldog Holiday Classic Wednesday.

Union (10-4 overall) led by 18 with 13:43 remaining in the game; however, Holy Cross rallied to cut the deficit to 84-81 with 1:39 on the clock. The Lady Bulldogs hit 3-of-4 free throws in the final minute to seal the six-point victory.

Five Lady Bulldogs scored in double figures with senior Wendi Messer (Barbourville, Ky.) leading the way with 27 points. Alyson Roberts (Baxter, Tenn.) followed with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Kara Pile (Fairdale, Ky.) added 14 points, seven boards and five assists. Laura Perkins (Myra, Ky.) netted 12 points, and Amber Tayloer (Clinton, Tenn.) came off the bench to deliver 10 points and five assists.

In the opening game of the Classic, Indiana Southeast handed Tennessee Wesleyan a 75-57 defeat. Indiana Southeast nearly etched its name in the NAIA record book as it made its first 27 free throw attempts but missed its final try to finish 27-of-28 at the line. Only three NAIA women's basketball teams have shot 100 percent at the foul line with a minimum of 20 attempts.

Lindsey Steffen was a one-person wrecking crew for Holy Cross as she posted 28 points and 17 rebounds. Steffen shot 12-of-17 from the floor, while the rest of the Saints went 17-for-45.

Up 50-40 at the half, Union steadily padded its cushion, using an 8-2 surge to grab a 71-53 lead with 13:43 to play. Yet, Holy Cross did not go away.

Down 15, Lauren Malinowski capped a 9-0 Saints run to make it a 78-72 game with 7:35 remaining. A Kelci Jones (Corbin, Ky.) pushed Union's lead back to 82-72 at the 5:13 mark, but Holy Cross put together a 9-2 run to make it a three-point game. Mary Fitzgerald buried a 3-pointer with 1:39 left to make it 84-81.

Down the stretch, though, Holy Cross missed its final three shots with Union going 3-for-4 at the foul line as the Lady Bulldogs held on for the 87-81 decision.

In addition to Steffen, two other Saints scored in double figures. Malinowski had 14 points and eight assists with Fitzgerald knocking in 12 points.

Union narrowly won the battle on the boards, outrebounding Holy Cross 39-38.

The Classic resumes Thursday with Holy Cross facing Tennessee Wesleyan at 2 p.m. and Union taking on Indiana Southeast at 4 p.m.