A shaky second quarter served as a subtle reminder Saturday for St. Ambrose that basketball at its best is a team game.
The Queen Bees overcame a 3-for-16 quarter from the field to earn their third straight Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference women’s basketball win, collecting an 82-72 victory over Indiana-South Bend at Lee Lohman Arena.
St. Ambrose led 26-13 after one quarter, but took a 35-32 lead into the locker room at halftime after a struggle-filled second quarter.
“We got away from playing our game,’’ Queen Bees coach Krista Van Hauen said. “There was too much individual play. We talked about that at the half and in the third quarter, we got back to playing a team game.’’
St. Ambrose shared the ball, defended and regained a lead which reached 61-46 by the time Hailey Cook scored two of her 22 points with 7 minutes, 28 seconds remaining.
The score came after a flurry of points off the bench by the Bees’ Candace Finnin, who scored eight of her 13 points over a five-minute stretch which started late in the third quarter and helped St. Ambrose grow its lead from 45-42 to the double-digit margin it first enjoyed in the opening quarter.
“We kept working and that started with defense,’’ said Finnin, a junior from Mokena, Illinois. “We tried to take away their threes and offense, we ran our offense the way it is supposed to run.’’
Finnin’s work included a three-pointer from the right wing and a lay-in on consecutive possessions which sent St. Ambrose into the fourth quarter with a 57-46 advantage.
“When Candace comes in and plays hard like she did today, she plays well for us,’’ Van Hauen said. “This was a game that should give her confidence moving forward and we need contributions like that off the bench to complement what we’re getting from our starters.’’
Indiana-South Bend pulled within seven points on three occasions during the final quarter, but St. Ambrose finished off a 24-of-26 effort at the free throw line by connecting on 13-of-14 attempts in the final quarter.
That effort, along with a 53-30 advantage on the boards and defensive work which limited the Titans to 38.4-percent shooting, led St. Ambrose (9-13, 7-5 CCAC) to its fifth win in six games.
“We’re hitting our stride now,’’ Finnin said. “The second half of this game was something we can build on.’’
Cook and Reeann McCarty led the Queen Bees with 22 points apiece, while Madi Epperson totaled 14 points to go with 11 rebounds.
Kyleigh Kubik paced Indiana-South Bend (12-10, 3-9) with 13 points.