The Golden Eagle girls finally climbed over the .500 mark.
Big Walnut (7-6), behind an effective defense and some timely outside shooting, dominated winless Marion Harding (0-11) for its third straight victory in a 38-22 non-conference decision Monday night in Sunbury.
“We did a nice job containing Harding’s offense and found enough offense against their packed-in zone defense to get the win,” Golden Eagle head coach Bob Scott said. “For the most part we accomplished our goals tonight.”
After watching the Lady Presidents jump out to a 4-0 lead in the opening minute, the Golden Eagles went on a 9-0 run behind the inside scoring of sophomore Skylar Fleak and long-range shooting of Kayleigh Hammond to take a 9-5 lead on junior guard Samantha Klinedinst’s baseline jumper with 2:06 left in the first quarter.
Harding rallied briefly to tie the game at 9-9 on senior post Kura Hairston’s driving layup with 21 seconds left in the opening quarter. That was as close as the Lady Presidents would come of the lead the rest of the way.
After a closely-contested second quarter, a period that saw the Golden Eagles go up to stay 11-9 on sophomore post Sara Petty’s short jumper from the lane 26 seconds into the period, Big Walnut dominated the second half.
Big Walnut, limiting Harding to a 3-for-21, 14.3 second-half shooting percentage, outscored the Lady Presidents 19-8 in the second half to go up by as many as 18 points in the final quarter. The Golden Eagles took their first double-digit lead, an 11-point, 28-17 advantage, on senior forward Megan Walters’ basket with 1:54 left in the third quarter.
The Golden Eagles put the game out of reach with an 8-0 final quarter run with baskets by Fleak, Petty and Walters to take a 38-20 lead with 1:17 to play.
“Our girls are showing signs of coming together as a unit,” Scott said. “As I said, we played good team defense, hit the shots when we needed to hit them, handled the ball well against their pressure and took advantage of our opportunities.”
Fleak led Big Walnut with a double-double, taking scoring honors with 11 points while pulling down a game-high 10 rebounds. Walters checked in with 10 points while Hammond finished with 8 points. Petty backed Fleak with 5 boards.
Big Walnut finished with a 27.5 shooting percentage (14-for-51), adding 6 of 8 free throws. The Golden Eagles, who turned the ball over only three times in the decisive second half, committed only 8 turnovers in 50 possessions.
Marion Harding was led in the scoring column by Hairston’s 11 points. Junior Loren Bollinger was next with 6 points. The Presidents, held to 36 shots thanks to 18 turnovers forced by the Golden Eagle defense, shot only 22.2 percent for the game. They were 4-for-8 at the line. Led by senior Nikki Jackson with 10 and junior Kaylee Oiler with 7 boards, the visitors claimed a 40-31 edge off the glass.
Big Walnut returns to Ohio Capital Conference Capital Division action Thursday, traveling to Pataskala for a 7:30 p.m. meeting with Watkins Memorial.