Posted: Friday, 23 November 2012 9:13PM

Lady Panthers Run Away To 68-46 Win Over NW Oklahoma St.




Drury broke open a tight game with a big second half to down Northwestern Oklahoma State 68-46 on the opening night of the O'Reilly Hospitality Thanksgiving Classic Friday evening at the O'Reilly Family Event Center.

Bethanie Funderburk scored 17 points, Katie Pritchard added 16 points and Emily Gray had 15 points as the Lady Panthers, ranked 25th nationally in the latest USA TODAY/ESPN Top 25 Coaches Poll, improved to 2-1 overall. Northwest Oklahoma State fell to 0-4.

"We needed to get back on the winning track after the tough loss at (nationally 13th-ranked) Washburn," Drury coach Steve Harold said. "This was kind of an ugly game, with not a lot of flow to it, but we were able to grind one out today."

Funderburk, Gray and Abby Bracker each grabbed eight rebounds as Drury claimed a 45-35 advantage on the boards.

The Lady Panthers led just 30-28 at the half after a first half that saw them hit just 12 of 34 shots (35 percent), including a 2-for-12 effort from 3-point range. They didn't shoot much better in the second half - finishing at 36 percent from the floor (24 of 67) and 24 percent from 3-point range (4 of 17).

But Drury made up for it with a 45-35 advantage on the boards, including eight apiece from Funderburk, Gray and Abby Bracker.

Gray, who had a career-high 19 points in Tuesday's loss at Washburn, came through with another big offensive effort off the bench, hitting 4 of 9 shots from the field and all seven of her free-throw tries while adding two assists, two blocks and a steal in her 19 minutes.

"We've been trying to find a third scorer with Pritchard and Funderburk, and it looks like Gray might develop into that spot," Harold said. "We've just got to get her more touches inside and she's got to be more consistent around the basket. We wanted some more production inside, and Gray came through for us. I was really proud of the way Abby Bracker played tonight as well."

The Lady Panthers finished with just 11 turnovers while forcing 21 by the Rangers.

Titiana Simmons had 15 points and LaParis Newsome added 12 points for Northwestern Oklahoma State, which will play Maryville at 7:45 p.m. Saturday to conclude the event.
Drury will take on Union (Tenn.) in the women's opener at 5:30. Union and Maryville were playing late Friday evening.

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