GEORGETOWN, Ky. -- The No. 3-ranked Indiana Wesleyan University women's basketball team pounded the post Friday night in a 59-45 victory over NAIA Division I No. 16-ranked Xavier (La.) University at the Chick-fil-A Classic in Georgetown, Kentucky.
Junior forward Paige Smith obliterated her previous career-game with 22 points on 10-of-15 shooting. Her previous career-high was 13 points last season versus Bethel (Ind.) College. Smith also tied senior guard Stephanie Burtch with a team-high seven rebounds.
The Wildcats also received a lot of production down low from senior center Krystal Stoneking. She finished with 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Stoneking and Smith combined for 36 of the 59 Wildcat points.
Indiana Wesleyan (3-0) seemed to have clinched the victory by halftime. With the scored tied 10-10, Indiana Wesleyan charged through Xavier with a 26-3 run to close out the half. IWU took a commanding 36-13 lead into halftime.
The story of the opening half was the stifling defense for the Wildcats. The Gold Nuggets hit just 5-of-31 shots for 16.1-percent shooting.
In addition to the strong defensive pressure during the first 20 minutes, Indiana Wesleyan torched Xavier for 57.7-percent (15 of 26) shooting, including 3-of-7 from deep.
Despite the 23 point halftime lead, Xavier (2-1) clawed back and used a 19-4 run midway through the second half to close to 48-40 with 7:06 left. The teams traded buckets on their next possession as IWU led 50-42.
The Wildcats would close out the Gold Nuggets from there. IWU scored nine of the game's last 12 points for the 59-45 victory.
Joining Smith and Stoneking in double digits for Indiana Wesleyan was junior guard Claire Freeman with 15. She added four rebounds and four assists while shooting 7-of-12 from the field. Burtch played a game-high 37 minutes for IWU and contributed 5 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals.
Indiana Wesleyan completes the weekend tomorrow with a game against Southern Polytechnic State (Ga.) University at 2 p.m. Xavier and Southern Polytechnic State each advanced to the NAIA Division I National Tournament a season ago.