Graber Lead Women’s Basketball to 102-94 Win Over Rochester

PUC-PeregrinsA stellar offensive performance helped lift the No. 11 Purdue University Calumet women's basketball team to a 102-94 nonleague victory over visiting Rochester College (Mich.) Saturday at the Fitness and Recreation Center.

Sophomore Cassidy Deno (Otterbein, Ind./Benton Central) led all scorers with a career-high 28 points to go along with 12 rebounds to net her second double-double of the season. Senior teammate Kami Graber (Nashville, Ind./Brown County) matched her season-high with 25 points and nearly had a double-double herself, adding nine boards and four assists and two steals.

Junior Patrice McBee (Monterey, Ind./Culver Community) continued her strong play inside, as the 6-foot-3 center made 5 of 9 shots to finish with 12 points and 11 rebounds -- her team-best seventh double-double of the season -- and senior Stephanie Balon (Wanatah, Ind./South Central) was hot from outside, draining 4 of 7 shots from behind the arc to finish with 14 points and eight boards.

Purdue Calumet (11-2) never trailed in the contest, but the Warriors (6-11) kept things close throughout, using a 44 percent shooting performance from the 3-point line in the first half to trail by just 10 at the break, 49-39. Purdue Calumet led by as many as 17 (38-21) in the first frame on a Graber jumper at the 6:58 mark, but Rochester would use a 18-11 run to keep things close at the break. The Warriors' Erica Schwartz would hit two triples in that span, and teammate Sam Charney added another.

The Warriors would trim that lead even further to start the second period, as a Jackie Highstreet jumper made the margin six, 57-51, with 17:26 left. A McBee layup, two Graber free throws and a Darien Thompson (Anderson, Ind./Anderson) bucket would push the lead back to 12.

A Deno three-point play the old-fashioned way followed by an offensive board and put back by McBee gave the Peregrines a 16-point advantage (78-62) with 9:54 left, but Rochester would make another run to cut the lead to seven (81-74) on a Caitlin Charlebois 3-pointer at the 6:52 mark.

Both teams would trade baskets over the next five minutes before the Warriors would get as close as four, 93-89, with 56 ticks to go, but Deno would again answer with a jumper and the foul before helping the Peregrines 7-for-7 at the free throw line to seal the victory. Deno went 5-for-5 form the line and Graber was 2-for-2 during that span.

Deno finished 9 of 17 from the field and 8 of 10 from the free-throw line and added four assists, and two steals for the Peregrines. Balon added three takeaways and two assists and junior Jada Buggs (Elkhart, Ind./Elkhart Memorial) had 10 points off the bench.

Highstreet led the Warriors with 20 points and Schwartz had 19 points for Rochester, which shot a blistering 51.7 percent (15 for 29) from 3-point land and finished 33 of 76 (43.4 percent) from the field.

The Peregrines offense did its own damage, as the home team shot 45.2 percent (33 of 73) from the field and 38.1 percent from 3 (8 of 21) to eclipse the 100-point plateau for the third time this season. Purdue Calumet dominated on the boards, 53-36, and outscored the Warriors on second-chance points, 18-9.

Purdue Calumet returns to action Dec. 30 when the Peregrines travel to NCAA Division I Valparaiso University for an exhibition contest. Game time is set for 7:05 p.m.