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Bruins women fight, tame Clearwater Cougars 67-56

Forward Brianna Delaney takes a shot against the Cougars. Photo: Amanda Ross

The Bruins women were fired up for last Friday’s matchup against the Cougars of Clearwater Christian College after losing their four-game winning streak to Pensacola the game before. BJU had defeated the Cougars earlier in the month 76-58, and after a lackluster performance against Pensacola, the Bruins wanted to step up their game.

A spirited Bruins team initially struggled with ball possession, but sophomore Julia Wright sank a jump shot to score the first points for the Bruins, followed by a quick drive and layup by sophomore Chalice Pack. BJU’s strong defense stopped the Cougars’ offense and generated turnovers and more points, courtesy of Pack and senior Trisha Irving.

The Bruins continued to take advantage of Cougar turnovers and built a sizable lead. Three-pointers from Breanna Bullard, Maggi Ford and Julia Wright swished through the net while junior Kourtney Hoefler dominated rebounding. Small mistakes cost the Cougars the game; bad passing, air-balled shots and turnovers were too much to overcome. At the end of the half, the Bruins led 37-15.

“We played really, really good defense, and we shot the ball well,” Coach Mike LeViere said. “We shot the ball 50 percent in the first half, but that’s not going to usually sustain itself for the game. Between playing good defense and shooting the ball well, we had a really good push and got up by 22 at halftime.”

The Bruins played sloppily to start the second half, as if they already had the game in the bag. Meanwhile, the Cougars started playing better and hitting shots. BJU fought through as Clearwater improved its game, but the Cougars started to catch up.

“I think we didn’t come out with the same intensity that we had in the first half. We were really pumped up, and by the second half we didn’t play as well,” Pack said.

The Cougars started sinking shots down low as the Bruins accumulated careless fouls. Clearwater, now trailing behind by only 10 points, stepped on the gas. The Cougars played a tight, trapping press, but the Bruins played hard and held the lead until the final buzzer.

The final score was 67-56 with the Bruins on top, improving their record to 16-6. Hoefler finished with a double-double, tallying 13 points and 11 rebounds, but BJU shot only 50 percent at the free-throw line.

“One thing we needed tonight was the will to win,” Bullard said. “We came in and started getting down in the second half, but we decided it doesn’t matter, it’s our game and we’re going to win. We refused to lose. We saw we were going down, and we were not going to let what happened at PCC happen to us again.”

According to Pack, the team has learned its lesson: “Refuse to lose. Go hard or go home.”