The BJU Lady Bruins basketball team had a strong home debut Monday night with a 76-62 victory over Columbia College’s Lady Koalas.

“For the beginning of the year, I am really happy with where we are,” Coach Mike LeViere said. “But we have a long way to go.”

Both defenses came out strong, but Maggi Ford hit an early three-pointer.

Julia Wright, Sha’Ron Brunson and Kendra Jeffcott also made contributions as the Bruins found themselves up at the end of the first quarter 17-9.

The Lady Koalas climbed back into the game, stealing the lead. However, the Lady Bruins went on a 7-0 run to end the second quarter to go up 36-30 at halftime.

In the third quarter, the Lady Bruins struggled to hit free throws, keeping Koalas in the game until Maggi Ford killed the opposing momentum with a clutch three-pointer.

The Lady Bruins went into the fourth quarter up just 54-51.

Down the stretch, the Lady Bruins began to pull ahead in earnest.

They began the fourth quarter with an 8-0 run and kept the tempo up, giving the Koalas no chance to come back.

The game ended with the Lady Bruins winning by a 14-point margin 76-62.

Maggi Ford led the team with 15 points, while Jeffcott had 13 and Brunson and Wright each tallied 11.

“We’re a hard team to scout offensively,” Coach LeViere said. “For us, the go-to shooter is the open shooter, and that is the way we want it. One of our goals is always to out-rebound the other team. That isn’t just our post players but each player collectively boxing out and going after the ball, and I thought we did a good job of that tonight.”

The Lady Bruins’ stingy defense also caused 19 turnovers. They allowed only nine points in the first quarter, while allowing only 11 in the fourth.

Despite the Bruins’ 48 percent free throw percentage in the game, Coach LeViere was not too worried, as they have shot more consistently in previous games and in past seasons.

“Let’s just say we’ll be shooting some free throws in practice,” Coach Leviere said.

The Lady Bruins look to carry the momentum from their 3-0 start into the rest of the  basketball season, as they will next host Converse College Saturday.