Women’s hoops rolls past Bluffton, 70-60

Kyndall Spears action photo

RICHMOND, Ind. – Four players in double figures and the Quakers' best shooting performance of the season against a Division III opponent combined to propel Earlham College women's basketball to a 70-60 win over visiting Bluffton University, in a Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference clash on Wednesday night at the Druley Performance Gym.

The win was Earlham's first over Bluffton since December 4, 2013, and snapped the Quakers' 10-game winless streak against the Beavers.

Junior guard Camryn White paced Earlham (6-11, 4-6 HCAC) with 17 points. White was 4-of-11 from the floor, and 9-of-13 at the charity stripe.

Sophomore guard Kayla Bowling drained 13 points, including a pair of 3-pointers in the first half. Junior forward Zoe Curtis netted 11 points and hauled down a team-high eight rebounds, while junior guard Kyndall Spears came off the bench to add 11 points – her third straight game in double figures – including a 3-of-4 mark from beyond the arc.

After connecting on 11 3-pointers through the first 14 games of the 2018-19 season, Spears has hit a combined 10 treys over the last three contests.

Earlham shot 45.8 percent (22-of-48) from the field against Bluffton, while holding the Beavers to just 40.8 percent (20-of-49) shooting. The Quakers, who never trailed in the contest, also took full advantage of 22 Bluffton fouls, posting a 19-of-27 mark at the free-throw line.

The Quakers raced out to a 9-2 lead by the 5:30 mark of the opening quarter, before some setbacks allowed the Beavers to narrow the lead. Curtis, Earlham's leading scorer, took a finger to the eye in the opening minutes, briefly sending the junior to the bench before she returned to play with a black eye. Then White, Earlham's second-leading scorer, picked up two quick fouls and was forced to sit. Bluffton scored five unanswered points, and Earlham was up by just two, 9-7, at the end of the quarter.

A Bowling 3-pointer to open the second quarter gave Earlham a little breathing room with a five-point lead, but Bluffton got to within a single point of the Quakers, 18-17, following a Chelsea Moore layup with 3:39 left in the quarter. Spears and White each converted a pair of foul shots to extend Earlham's lead to 22-17 with 2:56 showing on the clock, and an Acacia Tenette layup right before the halftime buzzer gave the Quakers a 28-24 lead at the intermission.

Earlham opened the third quarter with a 7-0 run over a 1:16 span to grab a 35-24 lead over Bluffton, and effectively controlled the contest the rest of the way. Back-to-back treys from Spears midway through the frame kept the Quaker lead at 10 points as late as the 4:36 mark, 43-33. An 8-2 run by the Beavers cut the margin to four points following a Breanna Graham 3-pointer with 2:06 remaining, but buckets by White and reserve guard Kyra Joseph in the final minute gave Earlham a 52-43 lead after 30 minutes of play.

Bluffton (6-12, 4-7 HCAC) cut the Earlham lead to two possessions on four occasions in the fourth quarter, but were unable to get any closer than six points.

TJ Mills led Bluffton with 22 points, while Graham tallied 11 points off the bench. Brianna Gillig grabbed a team-high eight rebounds.

Earlham women's basketball completes its four-game home stand on Saturday, Jan. 26, when it hosts Anderson University at the Druley Performance Gym. The Quakers and the Ravens will tip-off at 1:00 p.m. in the first game of an HCAC doubleheader between the two schools.