HENDERSON, Tenn. - The calling card for the No. 2 Freed-Hardeman (Tenn.) Lady Lions in the last two seasons has been defense.
FHU entered tonight's contest with No. 12 Bethel (Tenn.) University leading the nation in scoring defense, allowing an average of 47.9 points per game.
In a game selected as the NAIA Women's Basketball Game of the Week, it was defense that did the trick again as FHU forced 26 turnovers and handled the Lady Wildcats, 72-48.
Bethel (15-5, 0-1) got off to a strong start, leading by as many as five early on after a Jasmine Taylor basket made it 11-6 with just over five minutes played. But the Lady Lion defense started applying full-court pressure, and the effects on a slower Bethel squad were quickly evident.
FHU (19-1, 2-0) went on a 15-4 run, forcing seven turnovers in the eight-minute stretch. Bethel would turn the ball over 13 times in the first half, helping to account for 12 more shots from the field for FHU.
Natalie Shumpert's driving left-handed layup as time expired gave Freed-Hardeman a 35-25 lead at halftime, and as it turned out, it was a sign of things to come.
Picking up where they left off, FHU opened the second half on a 20-4 run as Shumpert and Amber Alexander each scored seven points during the run. By the time Jasmine Porter hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to break a seven-minute scoring slump for Bethel, the outcome was basically decided.
The Lady Lions led by as many as 32 points before the Lady Wildcats scored 16 of their 48 points in the last 5:25 of play. Until that point, FHU held Bethel to 29.5 percent shooting (13-of-44).
Shumpert led all scorers with 20 points while Alexander posted her fourth double-double of the season with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Grace Alonso de Armino added 12 points on 6-of-8 shooting. Katie VanDyke was the only Bethel player in double figures with 13 points.
Freed-Hardeman returns to action on Saturday with a trip to Mid-Continent (Ky.) University.