AVE MARIA, Fla. - The Madonna University women's basketball team used a stingy defense that limited Bethel to shooting just 21 percent from the floor and forced the No. 16-ranked Pilots into 21 turnovers as MU upended Bethel, 75-49, on Saturday afternoon (Dec. 29) on day two of the Ave Maria Holiday Classic inside Golisano Field House.
Senior forward Kaylee McGrath led MU with 19 points and eight rebounds while senior guard Heather Pratt added 16 points, hitting a trio of 3-pointers and sophomore guard Rachel Melcher rounded out the trio in double figures with 15 points while grabbing seven rebounds. Senior guard Shantelle Herring scored just two points put pulled in eight rebounds while recording seven assists to go along with a career-best eight steals as MU registered 13 takeaways on the day.
With the game tied at 6-6 early on, senior guard Kristie Porada put MU on top for good with a jumper and 14:26 showing on the clock. The Crusaders' lead grew to eight, 14-6, thanks to an 8-0 run capped by a Melcher layup.
Bethel trimmed its deficit to just two, after a triple from Laura Johnson and a free throw by Kristen Hicks, that made it 14-12, but MU responded with a 19-2 run over the final 8:02 of the opening half to blow the game open and take a 33-14 lead into intermission.
The Pilots 14 points were the second fewest the Crusaders have allowed in a first half this season and MU held BC to just 18.5 percent shooting (5-for-27) from the floor in the opening half.
The Madonna lead quickly grew to 25, 43-18, over the first 3:48 of the second half. The 10-4 run included five points from McGrath and four more from senior guard Michelle Lindsey as MU took its largest lead of the game to that point.
The Crusaders lead grew to as many as 30, 58-28, after a pair of Pratt free throws, before MU cruised to the 73-49 win.
MU converted 21 BC turnovers into 24 points while shooting 39.7 percent (23-for-58) from the floor and 45.8 percent (11-for-24) from beyond the arc in downing a ranked opponent for the first time since a win at then No. 3-ranked Davenport on Feb. 8, 2012.