EVANSVILLE, Ind. – University of Southern Indiana Women’s Basketball started the 2022-23 season and the first as an NCAA Division I program with an 87-39 win over Oakland City University Monday night at Screaming Eagles Arena.
Graduate Ashlynn Brown (Perrysburg, Ohio) scored the first basket of the NCAA Division I era for USI Women’s Basketball with a layup under the basket.
The Screaming Eagles went to work in the paint early in the game. Through the first quarter, USI scored 14 points in the paint and had six of their 13 rebounds on the offensive glass. Southern Indiana also built a couple of sizable runs in the first, including an 8-0 run over a two-minute span early in the quarter and a 10-0 run toward the tail end of the first. Sophomore guard Vanessa Shafford (Linton, Indiana) got off to a solid start, scoring seven points in the opening quarter. USI led 24-11 after one period of play.
USI turned to their defense to increase their lead in the second quarter, getting a charge drawn by Brown. The USI defense also had seven takeaways and forced Oakland City into 10 turnovers in the second quarter. The Screaming Eagles went on to convert those turnovers into 18 points, eventually leading to a 27-point lead at halftime.
At the break, USI totaled 20 rebounds, 16 assists, 12 steals, 29 points off turnovers, and 24 points in the paint, while shooting 53 percent from the floor and 4-5 from three. Shafford led the Eagles at halftime with 12 points, six rebounds, and five steals. Senior forward Hannah Haithcock (Washington Courthouse, Ohio) was also in double-figures by halftime, scoring ten in the first half. Oakland City was limited to 33 percent shooting and 2-10 from three. The Mighty Oaks had 14 rebounds, 21 turnovers, and four assists in the first 20 minutes.
USI started the third quarter just as strong as they finished the first half. Southern Indiana started the third on a 13-0 run, getting multiple contributions from junior forward Meredith Raley (Haubstadt, Indiana). Raley had four points at halftime, but she quickly tallied ten in the third period, including an old-fashioned three-point play. USI outscored Oakland City 25-4 in the third.
In the fourth quarter, USI was able to go to their bench and get a sense of the team’s bench depth. Sophomore forward Claudia Gallegos (Naperville, Illinois) and sophomore center Lauren Carie (Vincennes, Indiana) each scored a bucket in the final quarter for the Screaming Eagles.
For the game, USI outrebounded Oakland City 53-32, as the Screaming Eagles pulled down 20 offensive rebounds. The Screaming Eagles also had assists on 26 of their 33 made baskets. USI shot 49 percent overall, 7-14 from three, and 14-18 from the charity stripe. On the defensive end, Southern Indiana finished with 19 steals and forced 33 turnovers. USI recorded 35 points off turnovers and 42 points in the paint.
Individually, USI was led in scoring by Haithcock with 16 points. Raley totaled 14 points with five rebounds and four assists. Shafford scored 12 points with nine rebounds and five steals.
For Oakland City, the Mighty Oaks shot 21 percent overall, hitting 12 of 58 attempts. The Mighty Oaks went 3-22 from three and 12-18 from the free throw line. They were led in scoring by junior guard Marissa Austin with 11 points.
The Screaming Eagles will return home Friday evening at 6 p.m., as USI welcomes Western Illinois University to Screaming Eagles Arena. Friday’s game is part of a buy one, get one fandom deal where fans can buy a ticket to Friday’s game or Sunday’s USI Men’s Basketball home game and get the other game free. Fans can buy tickets online at usiscreamingeagles.com.