MARION, Ind. -- No. 3-ranked Indiana Wesleyan University women's basketball continues to harass its opponents on both sides of the court as IWU flew past No. 14-ranked Cornerstone (Mich.) University 70-41 in the final game of the MCC/WHAC Challenge in Luckey Arena.
It was a telling first half as the Wildcats scored the final 20 points of the half to take a 39-11 lead into halftime.
"I think our kids played really hard," said Indiana Wesleyan head coach Steve Brooks. "We were doing what we had talked about and not giving their shooters any space. We made it hard on them and they weren't getting any open looks. And on the other side that created opportunities for us to run some. We got out and ran the floor and got the ball to the right places."
Indiana Wesleyan (6-0) earned 11 assists in the opening half, many on fast break opportunities caused by turnovers on the defensive end. Senior center Krystal Stoneking and junior guard Claire Freeman each had 11 points in the opening 20 minutes as Indiana Wesleyan shot 69.6-percent (16 of 23).
The great offensive performance in the half was not the key stat as it was actually the patented Wildcat defense. Cornerstone scored their 11th point with 9:16 remaining in the half and was then held scoreless through the break. A 19-11 advantage turned into a huge 28 points cushion (39-11).
"We thought if we could pressure them we could make it hard for them to see inside," added Brooks.
Cornerstone (2-3) shot a miniscule 20.8-percent (5 of 24) in the half and managed just one assist against 16 turnovers.
"But the second half it was a different story," continued Brooks. "I don't know if we can't play with a lead or got complacent, but that's an area we need to get better."
Indiana Wesleyan still outscored Cornerstone 31-30 in the second half but the Golden Eagles shot a much more respectable 39.3-percent (11 of 28) from the floor with just five turnovers.
Brooks was happy about the balance the Wildcats have on the offensive end through the first six games of the season. Tonight, four Wildcats finished with double digit points and senior guard Ashley Brooks contributed eight points and six assists.
"That's the thing I'm happiest about from an offensive standpoint," confirmed Brooks. "We're getting four or five people in double figures and that is reminiscent of some of our teams that were really hard to play against. And they just can't load up on Krystal or just can't load up on Claire. We have (Stephanie) Burtch, we got Paige (Smith) coming off the bench, you got Rachel (Steinbarger) who can really shoot it, and Ashley has been hitting shots. We've got a mixed bag. So I'm hopeful that we can continue that."
Freeman ended the night with a game-high 16 points while Stoneking added 13 in just 20 minutes. But Burtch added 10 points and Smith chipped in with 13 points and six boards.
Indiana Wesleyan hit 52.9-percent (27 of 51) for the game and had 19 assists. Besides Brooks' six assists, Freeman and freshman guard Emma Stahl each added five.
Indiana Wesleyan will next delve into Mid-Central College Conference play for the first time this season as IWU travels to Indianapolis for a game with Marian (Ind.) University at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, November 22.