SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– The number one ranked Drury Lady Panthers utilized their well-known ball-denial defense in turning back the Northern Michigan Wildcats 72-44 in the Oasis Hotel & Convention Center Thanksgiving Classic at the O’Reilly Family Event Center Saturday night. The Lady Panthers forced the Wildcats into 33 turnovers and were never tested as they remain unbeaten on the season at 6-0.
Drury jumped in front of Northern Michigan early and used their full-court pressure to limit shot opportunities and was able to dictate the pace of play, with the Wildcats hitting on just 17 of 47 attempts. Drury took 25 more shots for the game, making 27 in total.
“We’ve talked about the gap between their turnovers and our turnovers, and we want to widen that,” said Drury head coach Molly Miller. “To only have 13 turnovers tonight and then have 20 assists on 27 makes, that’s big for us.”
The Lady Panthers forced the Wildcats into 10 turnovers in the first quarter and 17 in the half while producing 21 points from those mistakes en route to a 38-24 edge.
But it was a decisive third quarter that sealed the outcome as Drury forced ten Northern Michigan turnovers and held them to just 6 points to lead 58-30 heading to the final period.
“That’s a testament to our locker room at the half with everyone saying we’re not going to give up on defense and we’re gonna keep pushing the defense, and that’s what carried us in this game,” remarked Miller.
Senior Hailey Diestelkamp paced the Drury scoring with 14 points and moved into second place on the all-time Drury scoring charts passing Bethany Funderburk (2010-14), now with a career total of 1,721.
Sophomore Paige Robinson had 11 for the Lady Panthers, and junior Emily Parker added 10. Northern Michigan (3-5) failed to place a player in double figures but received 9 points each from Emily Mueller and Erin Honkala.
The Lady Panthers will return to the O’Reilly Family Event Center on Tuesday, December 3rd when they host Southwest Baptist University in a Great Lakes Valley Conference showdown with a scheduled tipoff at 5:45 pm.