Saturday night’s matchup was anticipated to be a good one as the Bruins women, riding a five-game winning streak, hosted the Crusaders of Tennessee Temple University, to whom they had lost 58-38 in Chattanooga.
The Crusaders got two early 3-pointers from senior Amber Charles, and the Bruins answered with a layup from freshman guard Kendra Jeffcott and a 16-footer from sophomore guard Trisha Irving. Down 8-4, Jeffcott grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back for her second bucket of the game. Sophomore guard Chalice Pack then started her scoring streak with a jumper, tying the game for the first time at 8. The score went back and forth thanks to four more points off the hot hand of Pack, and BJU finally took their first lead of the game with a step-back baseline jumper from junior forward Kim Spiecker 10 minutes into the half.
The momentum shifted as the Crusaders started dominating the offensive boards and earned six quick points from behind the arch from junior forward Jessica Salera. Bruins Kendra Jeffcott put another offensive rebound in for two points, but the Bruins couldn’t stop the Crusaders offense to close out the half. The Bruins were down at halftime 32-20.
BJU regrouped at halftime, however, and gave up only two points in the first seven minutes of second-half play. Kim Spiecker got the comeback rolling with a three in the opening possession, and Kendra Jeffcott and sophomore forward Kourtney Hoefler each added points in the paint to bring the Bruins to within one point. Chalice Pack then picked a good time to make her second-half debut with a cool 3-pointer, sending the Bruins women ahead 36-34, and the fans into a frenzy with 13 minutes remaining.
Tennessee Temple threw in a wrench by pressing full-court for the last 10 minutes, and the Bruins struggled to beat it cleanly and gave up two costly transitional layups. The Bruins found themselves down 53-49 with 2:50 remaining in the game, but Hoefler and Jeffcott, each with double doubles on the game, worked together to keep BJU close. Jeffcott eventually brought BJU within two points with 2:15 remaining on the clock. She continued her clutch play by tying the score at 53 points apiece with 1:00 remaining, but the Bruins defense failed to get a stop, and gave up an easy two points on the other side.
An ensuing jump ball yielded possession to the Bruins with 30 seconds left, but they were unable to convert. Amazingly, the Crusaders fouled Hoefler with 11 seconds left on the clock, giving her a chance to tie the game yet again. The free throws did not fall, however, and the Bruins women lost their first game since the end of January.