MARION, Ind. -- No. 3-ranked Indiana Wesleyan University women's basketball never trailed in a 67-52 victory over Madonna (Mich.) University in the opening game of the MCC/WHAC Challenge in Luckey Arena.
Indiana Wesleyan (5-0) used a balanced effort Friday night as four players scored 13 or more points.
Senior center Krystal Stoneking led all players with 17 points with 15 coming in the second half. While Stoneking had an extended stay on the bench in the first half due to foul trouble, junior guard Claire Freeman collected the points with 12 in the opening half. Freeman finished with 15 on the night, including four assists.
Madonna (2-2) never held a lead the entire 40 minutes, but was able to keep within close reach of Indiana Wesleyan for the first 10 minutes. But with the score 18-15, IWU scored nine straight to take a 27-15 advantage. During the short run, Freeman scored five points and junior forward Paige Smith added four.
Indiana Wesleyan took a 32-23 lead into halftime and quickly extended it to 15 points (38-23) with the first six points of the second half. The six points came courtesy of back-to-back 3-pointers by senior guard Ashley Brooks and Freeman.
Later in the half, the Crusaders used a 9-0 run to draw within five of the Wildcats at 48-43.
Shortly thereafter, Indiana Wesleyan scored 12 straight points to capture a 62-45 lead, the 17 points being the largest lead of the night. IWU worked the ball down low to Stoneking and Smith to build up the lead as the pair scored nine of the 12 points in the run, including five on the free throw line.
Indiana Wesleyan would hold a double digit lead the rest of the night and cruise to the 15 point victory.
Smith contributed her second career double-double Friday night with 13 points and a season-high 10 rebounds. The reigning Mid-Central College Conference Player of the Week brought down eight of her rebounds in the second half and she collected a career-best four steals.
Senior guard Stephanie Burtch contributed a season-high 16 points in 32 minutes of action. Burtch hit 6-of-9 from the floor and 3-of-6 from beyond the arc.
In the second game of the MCC/WHAC Challenge Friday night, Bethel (Ind.) College upset No. 14-ranked Cornerstone (Mich.) University 56-52. The MCC won both contests on Friday.
Indiana Wesleyan will battle Cornerstone in a top-15 showdown tomorrow at 3 p.m. in the final game of the MCC/WHAC Challenge. Bethel plays Madonna in Saturday's first game at 1 p.m.