Feb. 25—Tahlia Walton, Emma Johnson and Corina Conley combined to score 51 points, and the Kentucky Wesleyan women’s team rolled away in the second half for an 84-40 win over Lake Erie on Thursday at the Sportscenter.
Walton made 8-of-14 shots from the field and also grabbed five rebounds, Johnson knocked down 5-of-11 shots from 3-point range, and Conley made 6-of-7 attempts with a pair of 3-pointers. The trio, which had only 16 points total at intermission, spearheaded the Panthers’ second-half blitz.
“T found some opportunities inside the zone where she could post up,” KWC co-head coach Caleb Nieman said. “We passed the ball well to her and got her some easy looks. Corina was an inside-out player today. She hit a couple 3s and then she was scoring at the rim. And Emma is just Emma, she can shoot the lights out.”
Wesleyan (17-9, 14-6 in G-MAC) carried a 30-22 lead into halftime, but an 18-0 run midway through the third quarter helped the Panthers surge ahead for a 57-33 lead entering the final period. From there, KWC outscored Lake Erie 27-7 — capping off a 54-18 second-half outburst.
Nieman pointed to his team’s season-low seven turnovers as a major factor in the run.
“Today, we didn’t get antsy at all,” he said. “We had six turnovers at half and seven for the game. Now, we get to have more shot attempts, shoot more 3s. That gets us rolling when we see ourselves share the ball and hit some shots.
“Defensively, I thought it picked up over the course of the game. I don’t think it started out where we wanted it to be, but we got a couple turnovers that separated us a little bit, and then we were all on board with talking and communicating.”
For the game, KWC shot 47% from the field, including 13-of-33 from 3-point range (39.4%), and converted 9-of-13 free throws (69.2%). The Panthers also claimed the edge in points off turnovers (23-3), paint scoring (32-24), second-chance points (20-11), fastbreak scoring (6-2) and bench production (44-12).
Cali Nolot finished with six assists, as KWC racked up 25 helpers on 31 made field goals. Jordyn Barga hauled in a team-best six rebounds.
“The kids are really together, it’s for real,” Nieman said. “At this time of year, you just want the kids to lead. We feel like our players can lead, and me and Nicole want to be their biggest cheerleaders.”
Breanna Bauer scored 12 points to lead Lake Erie (2-25, 1-20), which was limited to 29.8% shooting from the field, 2-of-14 from beyond the arc (14.3%) and 10-of-13 at the foul line (76.9%) with 25 turnovers.
The victory secures homecourt advantage in the first round of the conference tournament for Wesleyan, which returns to action for its regular-season finale against Ursuline on Saturday.
“It’s huge,” Nieman said. “Ursuline is talented. They dribble drive, they make good decisions, they have twins who can do everything — they can shoot it, they can drive it, they can rebound it. They do not stop.
“It’s really a key game here. It’s Senior Night, so you’re playing against that a little bit. First and foremost, we want to end the regular season the right way, but obviously, this game has postseason implications all over.”
LAKE ERIE 11 11 11 7 — 40
KENTUCKY WESLEYAN 17 13 27 27 — 84
Lake Erie (40) — Bauer 12, Flannery 7, Billing 6, Carey 6, Fink 3, Ibos 3, Heath 2, Clark 1.
Kentucky Wesleyan (84) — Walton 18, Johnson 17, Conley 16, Barga 7, Richardson 7, Nolot 6, Edmonds 3, Hoosier 3, Leis 3, Adams 2, McDonald 2.