By Patrick Moore, Madonna (Mich.) Director of Sports Information
LIVONIA, Mich. - Sophomore guard Rachel Melcher scored a career-best 24 points on Saturday (Feb. 2) but no two were bigger than her layup with 17 seconds remaining that gave the Madonna University women's basketball team the lead for good in its 78-74 upset of No. 9-ranked Davenport at the Activities Center.
The win, MU's third against a ranked opponent this season, kept MU (1-69, 12-6 WHAC) in line for a home playoff game in fourth place, two games ahead of fifth place Cornerstone and just one behind third place Siena Heights in the WHAC race. DU dropped just its second game of the season with the loss, falling to 23-2, 16-2 in league action.
In addition to Melcher's efforts, senior guard Shantelle Herring poured in 19 points and grabbed nine rebounds while fellow senior guard Michelle Lindsey scored 11 points including two foul shots with five seconds left that sealed the MU win.
In the two teams' earlier meeting - won by then No. 5 DU, 81-54, back on Dec. 15 - the Panthers jumped out to an early 19-0 cushion and never looked back. In today's game the two sides traded baskets early but the Panthers pushed their lead out to nine, 18-7, with just under seven minutes gone in the opening half.
The Crusaders then began an 11-0 run over the next 2:51, sparked by six points - all at the free throw line from Melcher - to go along with a 3-pointer by senior guard Kristie Porada that eventually gave the home side a 19-17 lead with 10:17 to go.
Kendra Cook broke the MU run for DU and the two sides again traded baskets but DU went on a 9-4 run that turned a 23-21 deficit into a 33-27 lead with 5:19 left in the half.
Herring, McGrath and Melcher each scored for MU with Herring's basket pulling the Crusaders even at 33-all as part of an 8-2 run that spanned the next three minutes.
DU, however, answered back to take a 38-36 lead on a Shanina Johnson free throw before Herring closed the half with a three pointer that gave MU a 39-38 lead at intermission.
Coming out of the break the Crusaders carried the momentum over and scored the first four points of the second half to take a 43-38 lead after a Kaylee McGrath layup.
The Crusaders kept the Panthers at bay as MU's lead grew to as many as 11, 72-61, with 4:37 left following an old fashioned three-point play from Melcher.
The two sides traded trips to the free throw line as MU held a 10-point edge, 74-64, with 3:57 remaining.
Davenport then went on a 10-0 run that spanned 3:32 the next 3:32 of the game to tie the game at 74-all following a layup from Tiesha Stokes with 25 seconds left. DU pressed MU and that led to a trio of MU turnovers during the run as Stokes accounted for six of DU's 10 points.
Following Stokes' basket, Melcher was able to get open in traffic and drove down the left side of the lane, converting her layup attempt and giving MU at 76-74 lead with 17 seconds left.
Then on the defensive end Melcher was able to come up with a steal and found Lindsey who was fouled and made her two free throws that sealed the MU upset.
Stokes led five Panthers in double figures with 19 points. Karli Harris added 14 points while Emily Nielsen and Cook scored 12 points each. Alex Law rounded out the group with 10 points in the loss.